I conducted my first funeral this week! …as a favor to a lifelong friend!
It started out as an idea that I would “say a few words” about her uncle who was 103 years old. I had previously told everybody that I had been to my LAST Funeral, but for “Ann” I’d make an exception and “say a few words for/about “Chick”. So it surprised me when asked I immediately said, “Yes, I can do that”.
When you live to be 103………….VERY FEW (in this case NONE) of your lifelong friends are around to “see you off”.
“Chick” was a Master Gardener so I wore my big brimmed straw hat in his honor. We made the dress “casual” because at our age that is a requirement. We set a 15 minute time limit………….in the South on a May morning it was expected to be getting hot. The format was at my discretion…….and I decided on simple but meaningful.
There were 8 of us there including the 2 funeral directors……NOTE: they had it set up for 30-40 people, chairs set up with the covering tent just like a “real funeral”. Evidently you just have to set them all up alike………..no accommodations for a simple funeral at graveside. The weather was beautiful; it wasn’t hot at 10 a.m. yet, there was a gentle breeze blowing, the birds were talking to each other quietly, so at exactly 10 a.m. our farewell to Chick began:
- I told the “crowd” to close their eyes and listen to the silence and the sounds of nature for 1 minute and that I would read (with meaning) the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer. They should listen to the words instead of worrying about saying the correct words to the readings.
- Beforehand we had shared a few memories of Chick and our thoughts about whether or not he was there with us………we decided he was and was probably in a hurry to “get on with it”!
- After the reading, I asked if anyone had anything to say…………and almost everybody did have something to say. They shared special moments from their hearts about Chick’s life of fulfilling his purpose.
- At exactly 15 minutes it was officially over and I left. I felt really good that in some way I had made Chick’s last official “party” special.
Later Ann told me that the funeral had been a big success! The “girls” had moved on to a luncheon hosted by an aunt of the family and discussed the unusual or at least different type of funeral service. They all felt “better and uplifted” not sad but “inspired” and content.
After that glowing review I wondered what exactly made the difference in what we had done and the typical funeral service:
- We were comfortably dressed and the service was short.
- No one tried to convert anyone of us to their specific religion.
- The person conducting the service actually knew the deceased and cared about him.
- My final statement was: One of the best lessons in life is that we are responsible for only ourselves…….not sons, daughters, wives, husbands, etc. They have their lives to live and make their choices and must live with them. In life we never know who is here to “learn the lesson” in relationships and in situations during a lifetime. It may be YOU that is learning the lesson OR it may be THEM that is learning the lesson. In learning lessons, situations must be provided for the learning…………somebody must be the bad guy! Sometimes we are the Good guy and sometimes we must be the Bad guy……….So we should give everybody a break………….THEY or YOU may be doing them a favor.
Several comments and happenings later that day were made that pointed to the fact that that final statement made a huge difference in the way the people felt after the funeral. Perhaps…..Angel unawares?
CLAP, CLAP!! CHEER, CHEER! BRAVO Richard!
I love the way you handled your friend’s funeral and the positive outcomes that resulted. Well done and thank you for sharing it with us. Your parting words were spot on and very profound.
We’re dry as bones down here…rain is very limited to none for weeks. But at least the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the birds are singing. Life is grand here. Hope it is for you and Don.
Enjoy the week.