When We’re Dead

I think most of us, deep down, hope we’re not forgotten when we’re dead.

I think we hope that should there be a viewing, a funeral, or just a gathering, will not be forgotten.

I think though, that we may be mistaken if we believe that there will be a big showing because sometimes we’re just…gone.

I experienced that with my dad’s funeral and viewing, and I was a bit surprised both by my hurt at how few seemed to show to see him off but also at how much it affected me. It felt like a slight to a man that had given so much of himself to his community and to his work that he was so quickly forgotten.

It seemed wrong.

And I suppose, in a way, it is.

It’s wrong that we don’t honor those that give so much in life in their death. Sure, businesses will send flowers and well wishes but little else. They won’t give of themselves.

The thing is though, I forget too quickly that dad was an older man and sadly, many of the people who knew him and his works were gone. He had outlived them. Many of the people now could know he had volunteered time and had been dedicated to his work but did they know it personally? Had they experienced it?

And if not, how do you hold them in derision?

Dad was just a name, an old god who had passed from view.

And really, the sort of man dad was, he didn’t do things out in the open all the time, so he must have known that few of us would ever know. Sure, he told us, his family, but he didn’t make a big deal of his donations, or of his volunteering or mentoring. He just did it.

The way you’re supposed to do it because that means it matters.

It means it counts.

The more you do things for views, and for folks to hold you in acclaim then it’s about that, not the chairty or community work.

It’s about you.

Some of this all too is that grief is not an easy thing to process and to share. I know that very, very well. There are funerals I regret not attending, but generally I have felt that if I honored them in life, then I need not be there at their funeral. I honored the life not the death.

Maybe that’s wrong, maybe it’s right,

Maybe it’s just right for me.

I just don’t deal with grief well and so I avoid digging into it in person.

It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just me.

But I am not alone in that. Many of us don’t do well with grief and just as many feel that if they honored someone in life then that was enough.

And it is.

Making a show of it in person can be just as self-serving as doing charity work for attention because you can make it about you, not the dead.

What matters, truly, is how people treated you when you were alive. And the fact is that those that came should be honored, should be remembered, along with the dead, and should be thanked, because they were able to swallow their grief to give glory to someone a last time.

As the curtain falls, none of us will know who came and who didn’t.

We’ll never know who misses us and who doesn’t care and who is happy we’re gone.

The dead know no grief.

Grief is for the living.

The dead just have an end to pain, to doubt, to suffering, and to the worry of the every day.

All we can do, truly, is to honor one another in the lives we lead, and to show that we appreciate people. All we can do is leave this life having loved our way to the grave. All we can hope for is that we die with more life left in us and dreams left in our hearts. It’s better to leave the party than have the party leave us.

Sure, we may not get many people at our funerals but if they are there for us as we life, then that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?


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