Have you ever been to a funeral and after hearing the eulogy, wonder if you were at the right service?
A few years back, I was at a funeral for a man I knew and we were close enough that we knew a lot of each other’s failings. The church was filled to the rafters as the pastor “preached him into heaven,” but at the end of the eulogy, one of the guys I was sitting with whispered to me and another friend, asking if we were at the right funeral because that sure didn’t sound like the man we knew?
We want to leave an upbeat memory, but have any of us “never met someone who didn’t instantly become a friend”, “always put others needs before ours,” or “never had bad word to say about anybody?”
I could cite numerous studies, but will simply rely on my 38 years in funeral service as it is based on experience, not theory. The point is that if we are going to come to terms with the death of someone, it is vitally important not to declare them a saint on arrival, but to remember them accurately, the way they were when they were alive. I’m surely not suggesting laying someone’s sins out for the the assembled crowd of mourners to hear, but to be thoughtful and sensitive in how we speak of them.
Does the widow who was physically and emotionally abused by her husband feel better about her life when she hears what a devoted, loving husband he was? Do the children forget all the missed events and lost time because dad was working late or playing golf with the guys when they hear about how much he loved his children and would do anything for them?
I have requested that when my time comes, not to pile on platitudes because I probably don’t deserve them, and interestingly enough, no one seemed to disagree with me.
You may accuse me of not being very sensitive about a sensitive, emotional topic. . . a matter of the heart. So be it, but I learned many years ago that healthy psychology dictates meeting life’s problems head-on. . . a form of reality testing.
We all know however, that matters of the heart are best addressed by the poet.
I read a poem this morning, written by a blogger friend down in Florida. The blog is called Future Lawyer, but it has little do do with law except for Rick Georges is a solo practice attorney. . . and a senior member of “The 25”.
The post is entitled Obituary. Click on the link to see the lead-in and other posts on the blog.
I wrote your obituary today.
I told the truth
But not the whole truth.
I wrote the truth that we all tell each other
and post on Facebook walls
and in Newspapers
I didn’t write the truth we keep in our hearts.
I didn’t write about the battles we fought together
I didn’t write about the secrets we kept from others
and from ourselves.
I didn’t write about the truths we humans
don’t want others to know.
I wrote about your accomplishments
I wrote about the love others had for you
I wrote about the public face
we all show the world.
But, I didn’t write about your incandescent eyes
I didn’t write about your caring soul
I didn’t write about the wry tilt of your head
When I was being ridiculous.
I didn’t write about the words we spoke
in the night.
I didn’t write the truths we admitted to each other
in the early morning light.
I didn’t write about our sins, our faults, or our failings.
I didn’t write about the daily struggles we faced
in a world consumed by desire and evil.
I wanted to write about the heartache of a string of days without you.
I wanted to express the pain of loss
I wanted to tell the world that you were the best person I ever knew.
I only told them what they wanted to hear.