I’ve had a few conversations about funerals this week. Admittedly, I went to a funeral of a beautiful man, who died at the ripe old age of 95 years old. His family, grand-children, daughter and son-in-law gave him the most fitting tribute for such a loving, caring quiet achiever who had a genuine life of balance and harmony in his life – a balance between work, family, fitness, hobbies, travel and love. From the memories I have of him, there is nothing negative to say about this man… he supported his family, he was dedicated to his passions and he lived within his means (with a little side interest in horse-racing, which was pointed out in the funeral). He was the perfect gentleman, someone many could look up to.
On the flip side, I was speaking to someone yesterday who was thinking of attending a funeral of an ex-work colleague, but then decided that he didn’t want to hear the glorification of this man, a man who constantly badgered and bullied his acquaintances, showed little compassion and everyone was his ‘mate’ because he had no idea what their real name was. He was a man of power in his field, and used it extensively to get things that he wanted. Ok, that’s the side my friend saw of this man, I’m sure there was a different side that his real friends and family saw in him. But he did bring up a point… why is it that at funerals, you generally only hear the good that the deceased person brought to this world, not their hurts and misdemeanours?
I did once go to a funeral where I knew the daughter had had troubles with her dad over the years and wasn’t as close to him as she had preferred throughout his life. She was brave enough to stand there talking about him to her dad’s friends and family, finding it difficult to say the good things about him but was able to say things that he did for other people, not for her… She did acknowledge that she had a strained relationship with her father, which as he became sicker, she tried to rectify, and thus made it easier to let him go to God.
But then there is the sad side of funerals… those who chose never to be married, never to have children and were devoid of having nieces and nephews to live for and cherish. They rely on friends who come and go, and are strongly dedicated to their work and their secret lives. When they die, who will attend their funeral? Will they even have a funeral? I know of many people through selling their homes who didn’t have one – one was sent off to the crematorium with no final farewell. He existed in his own little shell, with the occasional strained contact from his kids after no contact with them for 20 years. What do authorities do when there is no one – no Will indicating an executor, no family or no real friends to deal with the aftermath?
I did have a giggle yesterday talking to my electrician about our ever-changing dependency. How we seem to be more dependent on technology than human contact. We laughed about the concept of our funeral notice stating ‘her iPhone will sadly miss her as they were inseparable.’ But, in reality, our iPhones, smart phones and computers allow us to bring our friends and family closer together… it’s just that dependency on them when we are in the same room, worried about what the rest of the world can give them, rather than enjoying the ‘here and now’ time that people get disheartened with. The concept of the grass is always greener…
There are some who wonder who will ever attend their funeral if all their friends and family are dropping off around them, as they feel like they are going to a funeral every week… And that can be a bleak thought, knowing that you are the last of all those you love to finally leave this Earth, and it can be incredibly lonely, especially when all those who you’ve trusted over the years have gone.
But after the funeral of our dear friend last week, I did ask my boys, if I were to die tomorrow, what would they say about me? They were able to reel off many happy memories, many things that I gave them in terms of what they learned from me, the love that I gave them and the times that we share. It was nice knowing that they can only think positive things about me… and I hope that the positive thoughts can continue, as we now approach the pre-teen years and beyond.