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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The truth is, most of us don't like funerals.  We'd really rather not go. They remind us of our own times  of grief and loss, and deep inside, they remind us of our own mortality.  We'd much rather go to a wedding.  Now, those are fun.  Festive.  Everyone is happy.  Not like a funeral.

Yet, if one Saturday afternoon I have to choose between a wedding and a funeral, I should attend the funeral.

Older people understand this.  They understand the crushing aloneless that comes with loss.  They understand, but can't explain,  how much the touch of someone's hand means when grief has isolated them.  They know that showing up matters more to someone in a time of loss than in a time of happiness ... everyone shows up then. 

Showing up in times of loss says more than a card ever can.  No eloquent words are necessary.  Just a presence.  A hand on a shoulder.  An unshredded tissue passed at the right time.  A gentle touch wiping a tear from a cheek.  A simple, "I miss her too."

This past weekend my sister Liz and I drove from Phoenix to Sacramento (13 hours) to attend the funeral of my Aunt Betsy.  Betsy married Uncle John, my father's brother.  Uncle John is about 83, and my cousins John and David were there.  At the cemetery, Uncle John sat in the second row, and my sister and I sat next to our cousins in the front row.  As we sat down we heard our precious uncle say with pride:

"Those are my nieces from Arizona."

His companion, an older woman, responded appropriately, with shared pleasure and expressed amazement that we could come from Arizona for this. 

Uncle John said, "Isn't it wonderful?" 

If I ever doubt whether my presence makes a difference at a funeral, I will remember that in his grief, it really, really mattered to my uncle that we showed up.  And, in retrospect, it mattered who showed up for my father's funeral.  Showing up is a gift of love that never wears out. 

Now for an abrupt change of subject, I did pick a winner from the comments on my blog regarding autumn smells:   Jillnco from The Powers that Be.   Please email me directly at editor@proverbs31.org as I couldn't seem to post a comment on your blog.  Thanks for everyone's comments. I loved reading them.

In His Love,


Edwina said...


You are so right. My husband and I attended a memorial service this past Saturday for the oldest member of our church. She was 85. Her daughter and son-in-law are also members. I could tell just from their facial expressions that it meant so much to them for us to be there. I'm glad we cancelled our day-long outing to be with them.

KelliGirl said...

This is so powerful! I haven't attended a lot of funerals and I never looked at my presence at one in this way. I will keep your words with me to guide me in the future.

I'm discovering more and more that the gift of my presence (at any time)is so often cherished far past any inconvenience on my part.


Anonymous said...

U brought a tear to my eye. Such pride in your uncle's comment. You go nieces. Family is really important in this world.

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Glynnis: I agree with you. I never knew this so personally myself until my father passed away in 1998 and hundreds of people came to his service. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. I then knew how much it meant personally to those who were experiencing the loss. I remember every precious face that came through that line to sympathize with my family.

Ever since then, I make every effort to be at funerals to support those we love. It's huge.

So glad your uncle was so touched by you and your sister. That will linger in his heart forever.


Amy DeTrempe said...

Funerals are very hard, but a presence is so important. We need to put our discomfort aside to comfort the ones in a deeper pain.

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