I try not to get too serious on my blog or to take myself too seriously. On occasion I'll make an exception. This time is one of them.
Our ancestors knew a thing or two about life and community. They knew what it took to raise up kids, get through life and enter into the twilight with dignity.
My sense is that people these days are losing their understanding of why doing certain things is important.
Over the past year I have lost five friends and family members. The most recent being my mother earlier this month. Quite a banner year for someone who has never really had to deal with death.
The experience has taught me two important lessons that our ancestors knew about services and community gatherings. I hope you'll consider these points when the time comes for you to handle major life events.
1) Shared Community Events are Important
After my mother's service, my cousin told me something along the lines of "Coming together like this makes me realize how important it is for family to be together and stay connected." She is so right. I had the same reaction. In this frantic world that we live in it is so easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds and push our greater community of family, friends and neighbors aside.
Our ancestors knew that community events were important. They knew that community events created a bond that gave support to all the members involved. Marriages before the community publicly announced to the couple that they were not alone. Their family and friends and community would be there to help them get through the rough patches. Smaller events like baby showers, birthdays and anniversaries likewise further strengthened the ties of support and witness to life events. And so it is with funerals, that a community, no matter how large or small, comes together to provide support to those left behind. Our ancestors knew that with this support we could together make it through this journey of life.
Maybe there is something that we've forgotten as a society that we should revisit. Maybe we need to put more effort into creating ties and building the bridges that will strengthen and enrich our lives and encourage us in hard times.
2) Saying Goodbye as a Family or Community is Important
My mother died from complications due to Alzheimer's disease. When that happens, the one who passes has lost a connection with a social community often for many years except for select immediate family. Sometimes we are tempted not to hold a public service as a result. No matter what the situation at the end of life it is important to hold a service and allow family and friends and those who want to support us to attend.
Saying goodbye is really important. That one brief act will provide the closure you need to grieve and allow you to move on with the rest of your life. Those who opt not to attend a service, or not to have a service, are preventing the much needed chance to release those emotions no matter how complicated those emotions might be. A one hour service gives you the freedom of the rest of your life. Denying the need to say goodbye will hold you captive for a long, long time.
I say this because I didn't think I needed to attend my Mom's service. That I was fine on my own. I was wrong. Our ancestors knew how critical is was to say goodbye and to allow yourself to receive the support of others.
So the next time you pass on the chance to say goodbye to someone because the kids are sick, or you're busy at work or you don't like to fly, think again. Work will understand, bring the kids along and make it a road trip if you have to. Your life will be strengthened by the decision.