A funeral home is not a place of death but a place where love is openly on display. Death happens somewhere else. Look around you. Everywhere you turn, there is evidence of love. People often travel long miles to see a beloved family member, good friend, or acquaintance one last time. They do it because of love. Those who cannot come send cards and flowers. Every person and every flower is the result of an act of love.
In a strange sort of way, a funeral is a time of joy. There is an outpouring of love, appreciation, and respect for the one we have lost. There is also the sharing of love among those who have come far from home. There is a joy in being alive, a joy in being reunited with loved ones we have not seen for a long time, and a great comfort in the sharing of grief.
There are moments in our grief when we see someone we have not seen in many years, learn something new, hear a story about the deceased that makes us chuckle, find a name on a spray of flowers, or find something else that makes us feel good inside. We feel a certain amount of joy even as we shed tears of sorrow. Such tears are necessary for us to cope with the loss, for Shakespeare once stated, "To weep is to make less the depth of grief."
Remembering and Reflecting
Visiting a funeral home helps us remember. We remember the one we have lost. We remember the many good times we had together, the stories we shared, the triumphs and tribulations, the joys and disappointments, the laughter and the tears. Most of all, we remember how much we will miss him or her.
They are also times of reflection. When you visit a funeral and gaze on the person lying in a coffin, do you ever imagine yourself there? Do you wonder who will come to yours, what they will talk about, or who will send flowers or call? What will they say about you when your turn comes? Who will preach the sermon or read words over you when you are lying there?
1. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years of old age draw near, when you shall say, 'I have no pleasure in them' . . . 7. And the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7, HBFV throughout)
A funeral home visit can cause us to take stock of our lives, to reevaluate how we are living, and to refocus ourselves on what is truly important in life. Since time and chance happen to all humans, we never know which day will be our last.
11. I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong . . . but time and chance happens to them all. 12. For man also does not know his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them (Ecclesiastes 9:11 - 12).
A funeral is a time of hope. Solomon wrote, "For whoever is among the living, there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion" (Ecclesiastes 9:4). Job wrote of a coming resurrection of the dead when he stated, "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, until my change comes" (Job 14:14). The apostle Paul also spoke about the hope of living again "For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1Corinthians 15:21 - 22).
We will all have to face the end of our road someday. Before that day comes, however, ask yourself what kind of road you want to leave behind. Do you want one filled with regret and disappointment, or one filled with love, giving, caring, sharing and putting others first? As a friend is fond of saying, "Live your life in such a way that even the undertaker at the funeral home is sorry to see you go."