Wearing my Funeral Clothes

It seems I’ve had the opportunity to wear my funeral clothes a bit more often lately.  Sigh.  Death is a part of life.  “Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.” (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

I got you on that one… you thought I was going to quote the “time to be born and time to die” verse from Ecclesiastes 3.  Well, that one is applicable too, I suppose.  We all have a time to die, but let’s look at the mourners:

I am a mourner.

I don’t really go about the streets mourning. I put on my funeral clothes and stand in a funeral home shaking hands and hugging, often wiping a wayward tear.  I sit in a service and I hear how the life of the deceased impacted those around them.  I take in the promises of resurrection on the Last Day.  I choke back the lump in my throat and twist the tissue in my hands.

But then…

Then…

I go about my normal-everyday-coming-and-going life.  We all do. The wound that is left by the ripping of a loved one from our heart never truly mends, but with time, it does scar over.  In our fast-paced society, we often go back to regular life without truly acknowledging the pain that losing this person leaves in our hearts.  When people ask how we are doing, we answer, “OK” when we are truly not OK.

Maybe I’m sentimental or old-fashioned or delusional, but I think that throughout the globe and history, time stopped in a community when someone died.  A small town would close its businesses, widows would wear black, everyone – yes, everyone – acknowledged the deceased before they went on with life. The “mourners go about the streets” and no one really expected them to “get over it” before they were ready.

Because we don’t.  We don’t get over it.  Ever.  We do move on.  We do move forward.  We do heal. However, let’s be clear: we don’t ever get over it.

And another thing: when someone dies, it is sad.  It is sad whether they were old or young.  It is sad whether they were sick or it was unexpected.  It is sad.  It is sad because they were loved.  Please, don’t tell someone “It’s better that…” because it’s still sad.

In the midst of all of this funeral-going, I had a strange revelation.  It occurred to me that everyone I know, everyone I’m close with, everyone I care about will have a funeral that I must go to.  If not, they will come to mine(I hope).  Maybe it seems obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me.  I mean, come on – I know that you don’t get out of this life alive.  Yes.  I’m not a complete idiot.  But when I looked around at the faces of those I care about, I realized that I’m going to sit in a pew and twist a tissue with leaking eyes…I don’t know…it just hit me.

I was once told, “Grief is wishing something was different, better, or more.”  I’ve applied this quote to many facets of my life, but it’s true especially as we grieve at a funeral.  Wishing something in the relationship was different, better or more.  Wishing something in their life was different, better or more.

I think I’m supposed to end on a note of hope.  There is hope!  Yes, our faith gives us that, but as these black letters hit the white screen, I’m in a melancholy kind of mood.  A mood where I want to just mourn.  I am not going to wail and “go about the streets” or my neighbors might call the cops, but I am going to let my heart wish something was different, better or more. I am going to let my heart break for those whose hearts are breaking as they mourn. 

 

Wearing my funeral clothes,

Heather Smith

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