Are you going to the funeral? Is anyone concerned that a great deal of time, money, energy and planning are being put forth for the deceased?
The practice of waiting to bury loved ones days and weeks has become the trend to prepare glorious celebrations, high priced festivals and fanfare to glorify the person being laid to rest. Hours and hours of testimonials and singing during visitations, wakes, and funeral programs have become the norm. Processionals of cars, limousines, and other vehicles are assembled for the long ride to the final resting place. People travel miles and miles to be present for these grandiose exhibits for the beloved deceased. And the deceased are prepared for display before family, friends, and total strangers who pass by! Venues are chosen for their size in order to contain all those who come to see and share in all of the arrangements that have been made for the ‘home going celebration.’
On the surface, this may be harmless demonstration of caring and concern. Looking more closely, however, we may discover that all of this fanfare may be superficial and overrated. You ask why? Well, consider the fact that the person in the middle of all of this, the deceased, has no knowledge of all that is being said or done. The person in the box is unaware of all of the feelings expressed in long well-meaning orations and demonstrations. The flowers are beautiful but cannot lend to the plight or passage of the one being spoken of and around whom they are arranged. The music, though warm and feely in conveying thoughts of hope and heaven, cannot lend a hand to the deceased in their transition from life into death. And while the deceased’s family can benefit some from all of this, they serve little value in assisting family members with the harsh reality of death of someone they’ve loved and shared their lives with for a lifetime. Quieter and more private moments will be needed to find peace and strength to work through ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’
With more thought, the most revered among those of the household of faith, their family or friends, didn’t wait for all of this kind of recognition or even plan for a funeral. Of course, the general practice during death vigils didn’t allow for all of these grand displays. People were buried as soon as possible after their deaths and it was done with discretion to allow privacy for family members directly affected. And consider the words of Jesus, ‘let the dead bury the dead,’ in response to a question about a potential follower postponing joining with Jesus in order to bury a family member. Is it possible that too much is invested in the death of our loved ones and friends? Furthermore, when the news came to Jesus that John, his cousin and forerunner in His own work of ministry, had been beheaded, He left town and resumed His work of preaching, teaching, and ministering to the masses of people needing Him.
Are our priorities out of order? Are we doing too much? Does it take all of this time, money, effort, resources, words, music, etc.?
In the larger scheme of things divine and important, should all of these things be done when someone dies? What is it for? Who is it for? Why?
Can we add to anyone’s life? Can we improve upon the quality of one’s living? Do we contribute to a person’s achievements over the span of their lives? Are we judge and jury of whether this person deserves to be rewarded with a life after death with reward and glory? Really, what does it all mean? Will any of us be able to make things alright with this scenario of glorious accolades, crowds and beauty? Do you want all of that while you lay pristinely prepared on display?
All of this may sound insensitive and uncaring? To some, it is too much about nothing. But, some thought might be given to this notion of death and its finality. Is there anything that can be said or done that will change the outcome of this life that is ended? Probably not!
The people who really matter will be there after all of the fanfare to help with adjustments and encouragements. The people who don’t matter will resume their usual programming. And the people directly affected, loved ones, will find the strength to move on into their new reality remembering ‘the person’ who made a difference in their life experience.