At a recent passing, someone said “why is it we only get together when someone dies?” Good question.
I have some thoughts on it. In my community friends and family feel a great obligation to be present at someone’s funeral. There’s also this judgment that if someone doesn’t show up, they didn’t love that person enough, or love those present enough to come share this occasion with them. No excuse is made for finances or different point of view.
I’ve missed a few funerals in my time, mostly due to money and distance issues. I know I’ve been judged by some religious people for that. However, I’ve never felt the disdain or disapproval of the dead, only the living.
I read this recently: “More than a ritual for the deceased (who is not necessarily affected by what rites we perform once he or she has passed on), funerals help those left behind make the necessary changes to adjust to being separated from loved ones.” I think that’s a good and just reason for getting together when someone dies. Though it probably should be ongoing help, not necessarily a one day activity.
Your presence at the physical remains of someone dead is of no merit to you, or them. They are no longer there, so the notion that they “see” how much you loved them because you are present there is preposterous. The show is for the living, those others that are present at the funeral. I believe your love for them is not represented by your presence there, since love is largely an immeasurable idea. It is the same love at 3 feet of distance as it is a 1,000 miles. So don’t judge love by distance or money. Don’t judge someones else’s priorities of life negatively in relation to a death.
Someone’s death is often a last minute and unexpected event. Not everybody is “ready” to go at a moments notice. We get together at funerals to support the survivors of the deceased and that’s cool. I like that. If it’s no hardship to you to do so. Last minute unexpected events like this can cause the living extended harm. Yet, some judge your unwillingness to undergo hardship at that time more harshly than at any other time. If you don’t want to spend time, loose money, take off from work to attend a graduation, or someone’s promotion, that’s OK. But don’t dare miss a funeral!
I have a few words for them. Let’s go to the bible. Jesus said “let the dead bury the dead.” Jesus said that in regard to someone claiming it was such an important obligation to fulfill, to be at someone’s funeral, that you should pass up the things of life, or the living, for the sake of a funeral. Look it up.
If you can and want to, do it. If it is profoundly meaningful to you, do it. If it is out of peer pressure compulsion, stay home. If the expenditure to attend a funeral is a hardship, if it will take money from your living properly, like your groceries, or tomorrow’s necessities don’t do it.
I understand grief. Grief is a personal thing. I have grieved up close and from far away. I have also grieved for those who are alive and in suffering. I have not grieved competitively, or for approval. My deepest grief has been in isolation, privately, and when resolved, I have moved on. Because I have grieved in solitude I have been judged as unfeeling, and I have felt that, then laughed it off.
My final words on this are don’t stress and strain about having to attend a funeral. Honor or grieve in your heart, that’s where it matters, not with attendance at the funeral.
Only those who are there out of a shallow sense of propriety will judge you unkindly for it. They are the dead burying the dead.