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A Funeral

At some point in time of of our lives we will all experience loss, whether it is due to a divorce or the death of a loved one.

Even if the person we lose to death has been struggling for months with a terminal illness, the exact moment that they pass on is always a surprise.

There are some deaths that are harder to accept or understand than others. When we lose a great-grandmother who has been on this earth for 90+ years the pain is not so deep as when a child of 3 is lost.

In the natural order of things; our grandparents and parents should pass away before us and our children after us. But what about those friends and family that are the same age as us? Where do they fall in the “acceptance” chain?

I just got word this week that a cousin that I grew up with and played with as a child was killed in an automobile accident. She was only 34 years old. I am having a very difficult time digesting this news. Part of it is because she was so young. Part of it is because it was so unexpected. But I think the largest part of it is because I haven’t seen her in a long while, and I still remember her as a child with long, beautiful hair that hung past her waist. I just can’t picture her dead.

“Dead”. It took me several paragraphs before I actually used that word. Many of us do that; avoid the words “dead” and “died”. We are more comfortable with the softer euphemisms “passed away”, “passed on”, “lost her” and likewise. I’m not sure why we do this. Possibly because death is such a final word, we cannot really accept the harshness of it. So we seek to soften it by reminding ourselves of the fact that there is an afterworld. “Dead” means “the end”, “passed on” means our loved ones are passing on to somewhere.

I keep thinking of the funeral I am about to attend. We often say we are paying our “last respects”, but the truth is, the funeral is not for the deceased – it is for those of us who are left behind. It is our chance to say “goodbye”, to gather together with others who also loved this person that has gone on without us. It is our chance to talk and reminisce, to share stories about how all of us cousins used to get together on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast at our grandmother’s and then open presents. How we would compare Barbie dolls when we were younger, and then compare makeup kits as we became teenagers.

At a funeral there are tears but there is often laughter, too. We are surprised that we can laugh during these times, but these are the memories we most want to hang onto in our hearts. Mourn that your loved one is gone, but remember the times when your loved one was alive.

We will miss you Vi.

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