What can funerals tell us about living now?

Funeral time has been spent since the dawn of the human race. Evidence of ancient burial ceremonies has been found connected with Neanderthal skeletons. Funeral ceremonies vary from country to country and from religion to religion. Funerals may also vary depending on the nature of the deceased person’s life and occupation. For instance, funerals for police and fire fighters are somewhat unique. Funeral time is not always a time of sadness as one might expect. In some cultures, funerals can become quite celebrative. The traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral starts off on a somber note but once the burial has occurred it changes into a celebration to commemorate the life of the deceased.

As I have grown older and attended more funerals, I have been surprised to find that sometimes death is a blessing in disguise. Many times the death of a loved one frees that person from a life of pain and torment. For this, we are very thankful. No one ever really comes out and wishes a person were dead, but how often have you heard someone say “they are better off now.” An unexpected gift from some funerals is the reuniting of relatives who may not have seen each other for many years. Funerals have a way of helping family members re-bond after years of arguments and disagreements. Perhaps it is because the death of anyone close makes us realize how short life is. Sometimes death comes so suddenly and unexpectedly that we can not really come to grips with it. When a young person in the prime of their life dies either through natural or unnatural causes, we find it difficult to accept their death. “Why did it have to happen?” “Why they and not us is a question that many of us ponder?”

We all face two kinds of deaths, the death of others and the deaths of ourselves. We will face the death of others many times and probably no two times will it be alike. We grow older and wiser as we visit many funeral ceremonies and have to come to grips with the death of loved ones and their effects on us and others.

We will only have to face our own death once or will we? Shakespeare said in his play Julius Caesar that “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.” What does this mean to you? To me, it means that life is a risk and that each day I face a risk that it will be my last. I can choose to minimize risks but I cannot ever eliminate all of the risk associated with life. How much I minimize risk will determine the type of life I live. If I minimize too much risk, I will lead a very boring and sheltered life. It will be a life without surprises or variety. If I have too much risk, my life may be sweet but it will undoubtedly be short.

Do you want to know when or how you will die? Would you like to life forever? How would you like to die? What type of funeral do you want? Have you planned your funeral yet? Why not? What if death came knocking on your door tomorrow?

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