Why Bother Attending Funerals?

Why Bother Attending Funerals?

The first funeral I attended was my grandfather’s on my mother’s side. It was not a celebration of life, neither was it a memorial service. It had all the parts of a funeral; a visitation, the church service, committing the body to the ground and a reception. At the time he died, I was eight-years-old. During the visitation, when mourners viewed the body, one of my great aunts urged me forward, toward the casket. But I wanted nothing to do with looking at my grandfather’s dead body. When he was alive, he scared me. Seeing him dead would only intensify and cement that fear of him. So instead of going forward, I turned around and ran to the back of the chapel. Though this elderly relative of mine reprimanded me for my behavior, I stood my ground. I would not budge from my position at the back of the chapel. I wanted to be as far away from the casket as I could get. Since then, I’ve attended other funerals and have kept myself from fleeing to the back of the chapel.

Why Bother Remembering?

Funerals are not so much for the dead as much as they are for the living to remember the dead. And what we leave with other people to remember about our lives, will depend on how we live our lives. 

Sometimes, as in the case of a child, the memory of the deceased is short. Other times, after a long life is lived, there are a myriad of memories. Recently, I sat through the memorial service of a ninety-year-old woman. Though I knew her daughter more than I knew her, I still chose to attend the service. 

I recognized some of the people who sat around me, but mostly my focus was on the men who took turns recalling stories about how this woman’s life had influenced theirs. These grown and somewhat aged men with gray hair or bald heads, spoke highly of this common and ordinary woman.  As they recalled the words and actions of this woman, they momentarily choked up. Their friendship and experiences with her were greater than mine. They had spent more years with her and knew her far better than me. I left the service a little richer because their stories and their memories had embellished mine.  

Why bother attending funerals? It is worth showing up for a funeral for two reasons. First of all, you may get a fuller and more complete picture of the one you knew and secondly, you may be inspired to live a life others will want to remember.

Why Bother to Pay Tribute to Your Mother-in-Law?

 Why Bother to Pay Tribute to Your Mother-In-Law?

Monday morning, February 1, 2021, my mother-in-law, Berniece, took her last breath here on Earth and her first breath in Heaven. She was ninety some years old and I knew her as my mom-in-law for forty of those years. 

Remembering Her

I grin remembering her smile, her laughter, her voice when she sang, her compact physique, her authenticity, and faith.  She was a prayerful and practical woman who lived a common ordinary life with joy, the acceptance of others, and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She grew up as the eldest of six, birthed three sons, and widowed twice. 

 I loved hearing her laughter. It came easily especially when one of her brothers told some family story with enhanced details. I’d watch Berniece listening attentively, then observe how her smile grew wider with each exaggerated part of the tale. Then her laughter would bubble forth accompanied by tears streaming down her face. Sometimes, she’d laugh so hard that she had to hang onto her stomach with one hand while wiping tears away with the other.  

I remember her compact physique and how she liked putting on tennis shoes and going out for walks. Her hands though small, were strong. She held mine steady the time we prayed together for my prodigal and again when we cried together over the loss of one of my babies.  

Berniece was at home in any kitchen and we worked beside each other more than once or twice preparing or cleaning up after a meal. She peeled potatoes faster than me, knew how to flute a pie crust perfectly, and while washing dishes, always had a good visit with the grandchild who’d been assigned as the dish dryer. 

Her and her siblings were a close knit group. The first time I attended a family reunion I tried hard to learn the names of the slew of relatives who’d gathered down by a river, cooked over campfires and competed seriously in horseshoes. Though I learned the names of her brothers, sisters and their spouses, that was as far as I got. There were too many cousins and nieces and nephews for me to keep them all straight. 

At that particular family reunion, I heard my mom-in-law sing for the first time with her five siblings. The sound of their harmony echoed off the canyon wall and filled the air with the most beautiful sound.  

 Berniece no longer lives on Earth, but she has left remnants of herself in the numerous  grandchildren and great grandchildren whose names are numerous for me to remember. But when I see them, I know some of them will remind me of Berniecs’s smile, her laughter, her voice, her authenticity, and her perseverance with faith. 

Why bother to pay tribute to your mother-in-law?  It is worth it to honor those people whose lives, though ordinary, impacted yours with their joy, acceptance and enough patience to get along with most everybody. She was definitely one of those people.