Why Choose Funerals Over Weddings

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
— Percy Bysshe Shelley

One at a time, four grown men stood at the microphone, wiping eyes with clean white handkerchiefs.  They alternately shared snippets of private conversations, values taught through shared experience, and humorous stories. 

None of them had expected to be standing in front of a large group of family and loved ones that day.  Their father’s death had been a shock to everyone.  Cal was a large and influential character in the lives of all who knew him.

I came home from my fellow scouter’s funeral service and told my family

“If I can have my children stand at my funeral firm in the faith, absolutely sure of my love for them, and determined to carry on, I will die a happy woman.  That is a glorious legacy.”

“Why do you love funerals so much Mom?” 

How do I teach them why I will move heaven and earth to clear a calendar to mark the life of an associate who passes on?  Perhaps this comparison will help.

Weddings are joyous. 

I adore the fun of the dress, sparkly ring, flowers, gathering of loved ones, food and dancing as much as—okay, let’s be real…probably more than--the next girl. 

It's all about the dream of true love.

But the time allotted for reflection and recommitment in our own lives is too often lost or crowded out at the wedding ceremony. 

Once “You may kiss the bride” is announced, we’re off to the races with photos, receptions, the send-off, the clean-up.  The event ends with the participants exhausted and hopefully satisfied.

Funerals are solemn. 

They hold a different weight in their effect for our lives.  From the moment we hear someone has passed, we begin to reflect on their lives and our connection with them.  We naturally turn to examining our own mortality, lives and legacies.

We chastise ourselves for not taking better advantage of the time we had with the deceased, and commit to doing better with our remaining loved ones. 

We hear of the highlights and struggles in a brief life sketch and wonder how we didn’t know or appreciate all of that before.  We are more curious than ever about the details.

We take note of the rich stories shared, the family members they have left behind for a time, and the speed at which a life can pass.  We pledge to using every minute of our lives to love, strengthen, teach, and develop, so there will be something of worth to be said at our funerals.

We often leave with a headache brought on by continuously leaking eyes, and with gratitude for “each life that touches ours for good.”

Two weeks later, Howard passed.  Again, a man who’s life and family would be something any royal could admire.  We had been ministered to by this man for years.  When I’d run into him at church or in the neighborhood, he’d smile, give me big Grandpa-hug, and wink as he asked

“Is that boyfriend of yours (my husband) treating you good?”

I’d smile back and feel loved and blessed that I had someone like him in my life.

In talking to his wife Elaine, just hours after he passed, through tears and a smile she shared that while she would miss him terribly--after over 60 years of marriage--she was “just thrilled that he didn’t have to suffer long, and was free of the pain.” 

Now THAT is true love.