Open Mic: “Grieving Joyously”

I just attended a funeral.

It was not my first. At the other two services, my mind and emotions shut off. I don’t remember them, more than arriving, feeling weird and feeling no connection with anyone else present, alive or underground, although I was related to the celebrants.

I didn’t know what to expect from a funeral service, much less that it was being held in a cemetery, at her gravesite. A friend asked, “Where else would it be held?” “Uh, I don’t know,” I answered.

The lady was a gracious, gentle soul who delighted in life and in nurturing life around her. Her joy at being alive was unmistakable; that she revered life in all its forms was obvious.

I suppose I had some preconceived notions about size being important. “The bigger the better.” “The one with the most toys when he dies, is the winner!“ (or, in this case, “she”). The greater the number of people who show up for the service, indicates how “good” a person they were or “how well-loved” or “how many points they had accumulated in their lifetime” …

Achievements are often listed pompously and at great volume; her achievements were palpable in the loving gentleness and the humorous laughter shared by her family members and friends present for their last farewell, a remembrance of her kindness and encouragement to all. A life well lived and well loved.

The feelings were authentic, as was she. The sadness I experienced among the witnesses at her last resting place and felt at the service was mixed with the elation her loved ones held close to their hearts at remembering how much joy she brought to all, each day she walked with us.

I had no clue that a funeral remembrance service could be so fulfilling, so uplifting, so honoring of her enjoyment of life and overflowing with unifying community spirit. Could we but exchange those feelings with each other every day, remembering that each moment of life is a gift, and hoping that we can all tune into sharing the “present.”

Joy Appleby lives in West Marin. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected]
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