How important are Memorial Services?

Recently I attended a funeral for a friends mum, actually her step mum. A gracious women who earned the right to be called a mum in every sense of the word. My story today is not about this lady, although her story should be told, but about the process of her passing. Sadly as we age, so do, our family and friends and as we attend more funerals we notice a reduction in our circle of love and support.
The lady I refer to was nearing 103 when she finally said goodbye to her time on earth. Of course there had been time for her family and friends to mentally prepare for her passing. This does not reduce the sadness of the loss when it finally comes. I have in recent years attended a couple of funerals for very close friends which were extremely painful experiences at the time, but as the months go by I am remembering the time, more for its beauty rather than its sadness. The words that stayed with me the most during this particular service was that of the celebrant. She mentioned with a positive glow that it was pleasing to see, so many people attending the service for someone this age. I looked around and thought to myself there was only around 30 people in the room, which seemed like a small number to me. I then wondered to myself how many funerals must occur with fewer or sadly no people in attendance. The celebrant went on to say some beautiful words and reiterated this fine ladies life admirably. My immediate thoughts were sad but slowly turned to joy when I realised the amount of young people in the room who had come to say goodbye and show their respect for the life this lady had lived. The words of kindness of the happy times they had spent together, the lessons learned, the valuable knowledge passed on to the younger persons in the room, who, on this day, had no concept of the life they were going to live. This was something positive to grab hold of. It was a brief moment where I personally found calm and happiness. Further to this, watching the slide show of photographs and hearing the contented sighs of those being reminded of good times, the joy in seeing their eyes light up when relating to a moment in their past, again this all brings a happiness to the day. Later in the day as I listened to the stories of her life, all told with animation and personal experience my thoughts were reinforced.

Admittedly I was not close to this lovely lady and therefore not absorbed by grief. I was lucky enough to experience these feelings in the here and now. So I ask those who are grieving now, if and when you are able, it may be worth revisiting this day. There is a happiness that can be found among the grief of losing a loved one. Time heals the pain and hopefully the good memories become the only memories. Once the grief becomes less dominant and we are able to think clearly once again there is much to value and reflect on. This is just my opinion, I personally think a memorial service is important. The form that service takes is of course a very personal one and should be the choice of those closest to the loved one and any wishes of the loved one should be considered deeply. Having said that I also believe attendance is not something everyone can emotionally deal with and therefore there should be no criticism of one not attending a service. There is no right or wrong in how one deals with their own personal grief.

We who remain behind can only hope we have touched or influenced at least one younger person in the life we have led.

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