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As I am reposting this during a pandemic, it will not be true for most people in the world until the pandemic is over and we can gather again. At the same time, I still want to share the sentiments.

My friend, Yvonne, told me she went to a funeral the other day. It was the mother of one of her husband’s curling buddies. I asked her to tell me about the funeral. She said “There wasn’t anything really special or different about it. The son read about Mom’s life, and he did add humour, which everyone appreciated. That, I think, was what made everyone relax and enjoy. Telling funny stories about one’s life seems so much more relevant than to go on about their successes. No one else, other than the minister spoke. Goodies were served afterwards. That was it…. C’est la vie….”

Now it is easy for the friend of a friend to make that kind of comment, but I think the important thing here is to say that they knew what to do when someone dies: they went to a funeral of someone they didn’t know, and they supported the grieving family. How important that would have been to the son that spoke about his mother.

There is a proverb which says: A joy shared is a double joy; A sorrow shared is half a sorrow.

When someone dies we often think “I didn’t know the person, why would I go to the funeral?” Why, indeed? Because the people that are left behind need to feel your love and your caring. They need to have a witness to their grief. It may not be meaningful or spectacular to you, but you are doing a service….’c’est la vie’ means ‘that’s life’….and it’s how we share our journey and our struggles and our celebrations with each other and get through life.

When my mother died, and I was standing at the front of the chapel telling the assembled about my mother I was doing it for a number of reasons. I wanted to say, “I love you, Mom, and want to honor you for who you were on this special occasion of your memorial service.” I also was doing this out of a deep-rooted need to mourn the woman who had brought me into this world. 

 Since then I have made secret treks to the graveyard of my parents to sit in silence by their body’s’ final resting spot, or I talk to them in my head knowing they are somewhere nearby in another form, but back then, I needed to communicate with my mother formally and publicly.

When I looked around and saw friends of hers, friends of mine and a wide range of family members, I felt the support and love that I needed to do the task.

When Larry and Yvonne attended their friend’s mother’s service they didn’t say “Why should we attend – we didn’t know her.” Instead they said, “Our friend needs us right now and we will go to witness his mother’s farewell.” What a gift!

June 25, 2009 Updated November 7, 2020 by Laurie Mueller