Who would know that a funeral or a memorial service could be so complex? In my long life so far, I truly have been fortunate enough to not have faced the death of a close family member up until now. In that time, I've attended countless wakes, funerals, and memorial services, but I never had to be apart of the planning of one--it's intense, and makes me understand the role of funeral homes and their staff with greater respect and gratitude.
As family members weigh in on their wishes and memories related to the loss and how we want to remember our loved one, there are many different opinions, stories, wishes, and ideas. Of course there are as we all shared different relationships with our friend, brother, father, neighbor--in a sense, he was a different man to all who knew him, yet there were shared experiences and characteristics too.
The preparation has made me think a lot about social constructs, rites, and rituals--the ceremonies that mark the high points and challenging events of life. To rely on these rites, rituals, and ceremonies is to give life order, and to let those who are in the midst of the change have what they need to grieve or celebrate depending on the event. There's a sense of knowing what to do and when to do it when you have these common rites, rituals, and ceremonies, events that originate from shared religion, organizations, and/or membership.
This makes me think a lot about culture, and the fact that in our busy lives, many of us have lost sight of the constructs of our shared culture? I'm sure there are all kinds of articles and research that provide rationale for this, but as I think about this, I recognize that it is those of us who are older that have a responsibility to both honor and forward the traditional constructs of society and modernize those constructs too in order to make them more sensitive and responsive to life today and the way the culture has changed.
As many know, to go through this experience is to gain great empathy for the many who have had to go through this before and the many that will go through this later. To not have experienced this is to not truly know what it is like and instead like watching a movie about an event far away and not within one's grasp.
There is much to think about here, much to appreciate, and much to question too.