I attended a funeral yesterday and I have some feelings I need to express and get out of my head.
I am completely uncomfortable with open caskets. I cringe when I hear the words, "Doesn't she look beautiful?"; "Doesn't he look good?" NO...they DON'T! At least not to me. I have been to a lot of funerals and not once have I felt inclined to make such a comment. The spirit has left the body. It's just a shell now. Why do people need to look at it? I don't understand it. People say they need closure. I don't need to see a dead body to feel closure. I realize this is just my own preference and opinion, that's why I get to blog about how I feel about it.
When our first-born baby died, we did not have a funeral; just a graveside service for family. I did not want an open casket. This was MY baby. Yes I felt possessive. I did not want anyone looking at him. Besides, it wasn't him. Know what I mean? It did NOT look like him, plus he had been pumped with so many fluids in the hospital, that he was bloated and he looked nothing like himself; then you add to that, the fact that the spirit had left his body, which as mentioned above, leaves only a shell. I wanted family to remember him as he was when alive and well. I had instructed the mortician, where his body lay awaiting burial, to not allow anyone to see him. I didn't even want grandparents to see him, but now that I AM one, I can understand their need, I guess. But there were several acquaintances who were well-meaning, stop by the funeral home to view our baby. Why?
Why are there viewings prior to the funeral? Is it to satisfy a person's curiosity? I do understand paying respect by offering a piece of our heart to the family members left behind, but I don't like hearing the chatter that follows, of how the person looked, especially when it's unfavorable. What purpose does that serve? I don't mean to be heartless, I just don't understand or like it.
I do love to hear about a person's life. Many times I find out more about a person at their funeral, than I knew while they were alive. In the case of this most recent funeral I attended, I only knew this person during her years of struggle and bad times. It was refreshing to hear about her earlier years and the good that she did during her life and the successes she enjoyed. I love hearing all the anecdotes and talents that I hadn't known about. I love the honor and respect shown to the one who has passed from this life.
While I don't feel comfortable with over-glorifying a person just because they're dead, I do think it's a wonderful thing to honor and respect them as a child of God. He loves them, and will welcome all His children home.
Funerals remind me to tell and show my loved ones often, how I feel about them. Don't let an opportunity pass by to give someone a compliment (an honest one that you think inside, but don't usually open your mouth to say outloud); don't hold back the hugs and other expressions of love and friendship. I'm getting better at doing this so that I have no regrets. I imagine how the person who has died, who may be listening to their funeral service, may feel as he/she listens to all the nice things said about them, and wonder why those things were never said to them while alive. Sad!
Sometimes I feel anxious inside following a funeral. I think of all the things I don't want to leave un-done. It makes me frantic. This can be a good thing because it snaps me out of my trance that I sometimes fall into in life, and take action; get moving.
Funerals can be so uplifting too. It's such a comfort to know that there is life beyond this one. Love of a Heavenly Father can be felt so strongly.
Last of all, it causes me to think of what might be said about me when I die. Not that I want that kind of attention, or have anything said at all. But what kind of legacy will I leave behind? As we've recently experienced many fires in surrounding areas, and have asked ourselves what would we grab if our own neighborhood was ever threathened and evacuation was necessary, I've also been thinking about what will I leave behind when I die? To leave a home at a moment's notice, we realize we only care about precious pictures and special mementos, while all our worldy possessions don't matter anymore. When I die, I don't care to be remembered for inconsequential things; I hope to be remembered for being a good Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Daughter, Sister, Friend. I hope what shines brightest, is my love for my Father in Heaven and my Savior. There should be no question of where I stand on religion and I hope to live up to my beliefs and be remembered for that.
I KNOW That My Redeemer Lives. There is a plan beyond this life; a grand eternal plan. I'm not anxious to hurry to the great beyond just yet, but I'm sure happy to know where I'm going.