Today I went to the funeral of a man I didn’t know

5 Nov

No, that isn’t a normal thing for me to do.  In fact, since my husband’s I have become somewhat anti-funeral.  I know that some people feel that a funeral brings closure, and while I respect that choice, I personally just don’t see the sense, anymore, of people standing around looking at a dead body.

At my husband’s, the funeral director must have noticed I was somewhat avoiding the body because I remember him asking me something about if I was satisfied by the way he looked.  I replied (I hope graciously) that he was ok.  But inside I was screaming, “No, he doesn’t look all right.  He looks like a dead!

So when a friend from an organization I belong to called me yesterday to inform me of the funeral, even as I was listening to her and writing down the information, I was thinking Oh a funeral’.

Yet today I  attended the funeral–of a man I didn’t know.  It wasn’t idle curiosity.  He was the brother of another woman in the organization.  A woman that  has become my friend.  Although we aren’t bosom buddies, we are friends.  And even though I really don’t care for funerals, I felt a need to ‘be there’ for her.

I went to the funeral.  The visitation was just before the funeral and I attended the last half-hour of it.  I met my friend’s sister.  Both my friend and her sister thanked me for coming.

As I listened to the comments during the visitation, It seemed to me that everyone there, except for me, knew the man. My other friend from the organization had known him through his sister, whom she has known much longer than I have.

As funerals go, to me it was one of the better ones.  Simple.  Not large.  Not too long   Simple heartfelt music sung by family members.  Music that uplifted.  There was no sermon.  My friend’s sister led the service.  The attendees were offered the opportunity to speak of things they remembered about the man.  They were ask to speak of uplifting things, things that would bring comfort.

The mother spoke first.  Then her husband, the step-dad.  Simple remembrances of his life.  Some that brought smiles, others that brought tears to our eyes.  I could feel the love they had for the man.  One woman told of knowing him since childhood and of shared memories.   A picture of him was forming in my mind..

One man–ll call him Dan ( I have no idea of his name) spoke in a different manner.  He said he was the father.  He told of struggles the man had experienced.  He spoke of estrangement between them.  He said that he was glad that in the last years they had gotten closer and he recalled activities they had shared together.

After the funeral as we were waiting outside for the family, I overheard someone that was displeased that ‘Dan’ had brought up old hurts.  They said it wasn’t uplifting.  I wondered about that.  I don’t think that ‘Dan’ meant to be unkind.  I think he was just expressing his own memories and feelings.

After I got home I continued to think of the experience.  The more I thought about it, I felt that ‘Dan’ seemed to define the man by his condition, by his struggles.  The others seem to have seen beyond the struggles, to the man and remembered him.  They spoke of his heart, of love and friendship.

I know the others will miss him tremendously and my heart goes out to them,  Yet, really, they are not the ones I grieve for.  That is reserved for ‘Dan’ who through most of the man’s life, and perhaps even now, defines him differently.  For some reason, it seems to me he never fully knew the man.  I feel he had missed the rich essence of his son’s life.  That is sad.  The others are hurting, but they have warm memories, which will help sustain them in the days ahead.

As I reflect on this day, I realize that I;m glad I went.  Although I still don’t care to see the body, just think of what I would have missed had I not gone!   I went there for my friend, yet I was enriched by being there.   I also learned a valuable lesson .  It is so easy to look at someone and see only the ‘bad’ and the ‘different’.  Yet when we do that we miss a rich wonderful opportunity to really know the person.  In the future I want to be extra careful to see beyond the exterior.  To reach further, to the heart of people, to connect more.

I went to the funeral of a man I didn’t know.  But now I feel I do know him.  What I will remember is not the dead body, but a LIFE!   It leaves such a warm feeling inside of me to think of that life.  I’m so glad that I can count his sister as my friend.


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