I’m not comfortable with funerals. I don’t think anybody is. It’s the final act of a life – hopefully well lived – that we have to endure, and finally accept – which can be all the more difficult if this person was especially close to us.
I’ve been to a few funerals in the last few years. Too many, in fact. I’m losing my loved ones and becoming more aware of my mortality and the impermanence of all that we create in the material world. I sometimes ponder the futility of collecting as many possessions as we do in our lifetime, only to have to give them up to others when the time comes and they are no longer of any use to us. The ‘ownership’ of things is really quite ironic, I think, when the fact is that you can’t take it with you, so you really no longer own it, regardless of it being in your name, bought and paid for.
Am I being morbid? No, I don’t think so. I just think that the things that we hold up as important parts of us – our possessions, what we own, what we have – are maybe not so important after all. There are a lot of selfish people in the world that regard the things that they own and the money that they make to be the most important achievements of their lives. Maybe it’s not just about that. Maybe it’s better to be selfless, rather than selfish.
My most recent funeral experience was heartbreaking, and yet endearing in it’s simplicity. A breath of fresh air to an otherwise tired and material world. My aunt had a life well lived, and she no doubt had a few possessions, but the ownership of anything was less important than the love that she dispersed and the giving of herself, asking nothing in return. Her eulogy was honest, simple and uplifting, her grandchildren sang and we were treated to her life story in pictures on a large screen. It was perfect, and then it was over. Her coffin was not present at her funeral, and she was cremated alone and without fanfare – at her request, so that her children and her grandchildren would not be traumatised by the event, and could remember the music, the memories and the love in the church on her last day.
Now that’s the last act of a completely selfless and loving woman. I am so lucky to have known her.