Why go to a funeral?

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
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Trip End Jun 04, 2006


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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Sunday, February 26, 2006

Feeling uncomfortable in the alien environment of a Roman Catholic funeral service, listening to messages that seemed a long way removed from the person I knew, I started to wonder why we go to funerals. When you hear the sad news of someone's passing, you know you'll try to get to the funeral if you can, because it's important. But, why is it you go?

Because you should? Nothing is worth doing only because you think you should. To pay your respects? Maybe, but what does that mean because those respects can't go to the person who's died. Do you go to support those who will be there and to share the pain of somebody's passing? Yes, of course you can share the burden. Do you go to offer or ask religious blessing? Not most people in today's secular society. Perhaps like me, you say goodbye and wish the departed a good journey wherever and whatever might become of their spirit or body. Do you go to celebrate a life? Sometimes, but that's a personal and cultural choice. Above all, I think you go for yourself. You can meet friends or family, you find empathy, you can find reason to smile, and you get closure yourself.

None of this seems to explain it entirely. So why do you go? For me, it's because you don't do enough to evaluate what people mean to you while they're there. A funeral is a time for thinking, valuing, and hopefully for smiling. Maybe what confused me during this particular service is that it didn't feel like it was about the guy in the coffin or a celebration of his life, but it was what he wanted, and I'm glad I was there for all sorts of reasons.
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