Funeral Blues

At the beginning of Lent, I don’t exactly plan when I’m going to attend daily mass… there are some days that are more obvious than others.  I’m a Eucharistic Minister at the Cathedral each Wednesday at noon – I lector at the Cathedral every other Friday at 5:10.  And on Sundays, you can usually find me in the 5th or 6th pew (it depends on how fast the fan is running) at the 10:00 mass at St. Bede in Mentor.  But the other days, it just depends.

I never go into Lent thinking I’m going to fulfill my obligation at a funeral.  But when I think about it, I have attended more funerals in the last year than ever before, so the rate of its unlikeliness has decreased.  I guess that’s an inevitable part of life – you age and people around you die more regularly with each passing year.  Today, I attended the funeral of a mother of a co-worker.  She was elderly and had battled Alzheimer’s for many years.  My co-worker is now the last surviving member of her immediate family with both her father and sister passing before her mother.  I think if I were in her shoes, that might impact me more than anything else.  I think of my family – 2 parents and 3 siblings and can’t imagine a life without any of them, let alone all of them.  My co-worker is in no way what I would consider “old.”  She is a very enthusiastic, youthful 56.  She travels the world with her husband, meets me for happy hour on occasion and takes great pride in her appearance.  I see a lot of people in that age range who share these qualities and I find it inspiring and comforting.  I want to be energetic, fun and still going on girls’ trips and planning St. Patty’s Day weekends away with Renee and Doug.  I want to care what I look like and I want to have joints that don’t hurt and not be bound to a certain lifestyle because I’m not in the best of health due to anything I have done or haven’t done.  And I want as many of my family members and friends to enjoy this same fate.

When someone you love dies, do you feel that they’re really gone?  Is physical presence important to you?  Does something happen and you feel like the person you loved who passed is sending you a signal?  The priest who said the funeral mass this morning remarked that we should pray to those we’ve lost.  We should keep talking to them because they’re never really gone.

After, I feel like I always do after a funeral – peaceful.  If there is any moment where I sense God is in attendance, it is at a funeral.  He is there to help us through the difficulty that goes along with losing someone we love.  He is there to help us after the fact.  And He is there to remind us that while we are mourning here, the one we’ve lost is happy, safe and listening for our prayers.  Rest in peace, Jean.

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