F is for Funerals
As sad as funerals are, I’ve recently found a very beautiful aspect to them. While it is the commemoration of the loss of a person from this earth and their reunification with their Lord, for us here still left on earth it can be a very deep experience that brings us together.
Two funerals stand out very clearly in my mind. The funeral of my grandmother nearly four and a half years ago, and the funeral of one of my elementary school teachers a couple of months ago.
Grandma’s funeral was an experience unlike any other in my life. For the first time ever, I very clearly recognized and knew the face of the person in the coffin. I had memories with that person that I so badly did not want to leave behind as “the past.” I had to use past tense for a person I had known as someone very present in my life only days prior.
It hurt. It was painful to have to come to all of that realization so quickly.
Yet at the same time, I remember moments from that day in which my heart was lifted. Seeing the people who entered the mosque to pay their respects, dear people in my family’s life, some of whom we had not seen in years. Feeling the outpouring of love an entire community showered onto me and my family. Being surrounded by my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and more than ever feeling like a family, one that shared experiences no one else in the world could ever fully understand.
Then recently at my teacher’s funeral, amidst feeling sadness at the loss, hurt for my friends who were related to this teacher and horrific realization that those passing away are getting closer and closer to my parents’ age, again I found that community and love that I found at Grandma’s funeral. Teachers who introduced me to so many of my ideas and beliefs that shape who I am today. Friends I made over ten years ago, who grew up with me. Other individuals who I am not necessarily close to, but who I realize make up my community.
There is so much emotion wrapped into a funeral, and while the freshest feeling is sadness, the deeper feeling is love. Love for the person who has passed, and love for the people you still have with you. The times around the death of a loved one are so difficult, yet part of me yearns for that love again.