I just got home today from the second funeral I’ve attended this summer. Today’s was for the father of one of my best friends, someone I’ve known for over 30 years.
Her father was 91 years old and was the oldest of eight children. He leaves behind his bride (they were married 69 years … can you imagine that!), four adult children, 10 adult grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. By anyone’s yardstick, this man lived a long and beautiful life. To say he will be greatly missed by his loved ones is a tremendous understatement of fact. He was truly an honorable, loving and kind man.
About a month ago, I attended another funeral … this time for my brother-in-law’s youngest brother. He left behind a stepson and two grandchildren … as well as five adult siblings and a mother. This man was the youngest of six children and died at the age of 51. As happened today, family and friends said their tear-filled goodbyes to their life-loving father, brother and son … a man who transitioned unexpectedly and is gone from this earth too soon.
Funerals remind us that life is precious. They are a wake–up call for all of us who remain.
The promise of every birth comes with the certainty that one day there will be a death. The when, where, and how are all a mystery; there is no predicting when your number will be called, only that it will be called.
Funerals remind us that so much of what we worry about while we’re alive doesn’t really matter all that much. The possessions we’ve accumulated mean nothing. Job titles and accolades aren’t all that important. The extra hours spent at the office mean darn little, if anything.
Perhaps most important, funerals remind us that the things we “meant to do” mean nothing … nothing at all. It’s only the love and kindness that we shared and the joy that we soaked in that matter at the end.
You get a pretty good picture of how much love a person brought to this world by how much love is expressed at their leaving it. At both funerals this summer, I saw a river of tears shed … I saw brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, mothers, wives, friends and more all reach out one last time to say “you were truly, truly loved.”
If you’re on this earth for very long, you will know loss. There’s no escaping it.
Chances are, you have your own stories you can tell of wonderful people who touched you deeply who have departed, perhaps for what seemed like far too soon. Instead of dwelling on their passing, though, take a moment to dwell on the love they brought to you. Take a moment to celebrate how they changed your life for the better.
Now take a look at your own life. Are you, as Henry David Thoreau would say, “living deep and sucking out all the marrow of life”? Are you adding kindness and love and compassion to the world in heaping handfuls so that when you make your final exit, those left behind will know that they were truly loved by you?
Are you allowing the little things to get your down? Are you shortchanging your own life and the world by not giving the full light and wonder of your gifts and talents to the world?
On the surface, it seems that funerals are about death and saying goodbye, and while that’s true, what’s also true is they’re also about life and the celebration of a birth.
For me, this summer has offered many reminders to live … really, truly live. I don’t want to say “someday I’ll do this or that,” I want to get started now. I want to give it all I’ve got while I’m here.
This isn’t about me, though. It’s about you.
The big question is: WHAT DO YOU WANT? You get to answer that for yourself. This is your friendly wake-up call … your gentle reminder that you don’t have forever.
I titled this post Life Lessons Learned from Two Funerals and a Baby’s Birth because just as I have witnessed life’s losses this summer, I’ve also been blessed with getting to experience new life coming into the world.
In June, I had the pleasure of getting to hold my nephew’s son just a few hours after his birth. They named him Brooks, and in my completely biased yet totally perceptive opinion, little Brooks is quite beautiful and perfect.
This little guy came into the world as a son, a brother, a grandson, a great grandson, a cousin, a nephew, a great-nephew and more. The circle of life continues.
While life certainly has its endings, baby Brooks is a reminder that life is also filled with wonderful new beginnings.
Today could be a new beginning for you. What do you want to begin in your life? There’s no better time to start than now.
Wishing you much love, peace, and joy on your journey. Maybe it be everything you hope for and more! – J. Marie Novak, Founder BelieveAndCreate.com