It’s a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were…and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be.
~From Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
I like to think after we die we can still see what goes on on earth, for a short period of time at least. I suppose my hope is that we can be “present” at our own funeral, in whatever form that might be.
I’ve had this hope for quite some time now…
I’m an interesting one, as most of you know, but I’ve always thought a lot about my own funeral. I’ve made lists in the past about things I want there, like people I want to speak, songs I want played, pallbearers, etc. I don’t know what exactly my fascination is with funerals, but for some reason I really want mine to be right.
I suppose deep down I see a funeral as one’s overall “report card” so to say. What people say about you at your funeral, what is written on your tombstone, what is remembered about you after you’re gone, etc. – it all sort of explains how your time on earth was spent, I guess. These sort of things are important to me, as I undoubtedly care a lot about what I bring to this world while I’m here sharing in the whole experience.
And if you don’t think I’m strange enough already, I can honestly say I sometimes find myself evaluating my friendships on a level of whether or not I think I have had enough of an impact on some of my friends, enough that I think they would take time out of their own lives to come to my funeral to honor my life.
Strange? I suppose. But I honestly really hope to one day be able to see who does come to my funeral, as well as to be able to hear what is said about me. Maybe it is how I plan to evaluate my own life overall; to see how I did during my years here. I don’t know…
I truly believe you can tell a lot about a person by who comes to their funeral. You can see who they have impacted—the young, the old, the in-between. You can see how deeply they impacted some, as well as how far their influence has gone.
People come from all over for funerals. Some will travel hundreds of miles, while others will leave their house just to drive a few streets over. But in the end, they all end up in the same destination, with hopes of doing the same thing—honoring the one whom they all share a common bond with.
It is that honoring that brings me to funerals. I do my best to attend the funerals of those whom have had an impact on my life, as I would hope others would do the same for me. I suppose in a way I hope to give them the respect and honor that they deserve from me, should they happen to be “present” as well.
Many times it is hard for me to swallow the whole idea, in reference to the one that passed, that, as Donald Miller puts it, “you never again will be.” But, even if that is the case, I still can bring myself to attend funerals in honoring. Sometimes it is hard to accept the fact that you can’t talk to that person anymore, especially if that person was a source of motivation and encouragement and influence for you.
For example, I still keep the email address in my address book of a friend who passed away more than a year ago. I see it, and it brings a smile to my face every time I look through my address book. I even emailed that friend about a month after their passing, in full cognition that they would never read that email.
I don’t know…
I don’t know the answer to “how should one deal with death?” It’s different for everyone, so I don’t know
What I do know though, is that I will be attending a funeral on Friday of an individual who had an impact on my life.
In times when support was needed, this individual was there for me. This individual smiled when I needed a smile. This individual wrote me a note when I needed a note.
Though it was my college years at ACU that brought us together, I was blessed to keep in touch with her in my years following my graduation…
I’ll never forget one night staying up at my computer emailing back and forth, LONG emails with this lady. It was late, after 10 PM when we started, and I would get her response and write her back, only to have another response back from her in a matter of minutes.
I go back now and reread those emails and it brings a smile to my face and tears of joy to my eyes.
One of her most recent emails to me read:
Thanks for making me laugh! I had just been thinking about you. I had found a note that you had written me and again felt very blessed to know you! Keep the funnies coming! Love ya, #####
One thing I noticed about all of our emails back and forth was how we both always signed them “love.” If anything, I can rest assured in the fact that she knew I loved and appreciated her and what she did for me through her encouraging words.
I may never get to thank her again in person for that, but I can be sure to pay my respects to her family by honoring her and her life at her funeral.