Funerals aren’t so bad. In fact, I like funerals. But then again, I’ve only ever been to one. As far as I can clearly remember, today was the first time. I have the faintest memory of not wanting to look into a coffin as a child but I can’t tell if it’s illusory. Today, I didn’t want to see a dead face nor an eerily still body (I guess I’m still not 100% comfortable with death??). But I followed as people walked around her body to take one last look at her resting.
I can remember only her smile, her kind face and the candies she never failed to bring each time she visited my grandmother when I was six or so. That was enough ‘justification’ for me to go to her funeral. I looked at her in the framed photo- black, white and grainy, and imagined her as she was described by the people who truly knew and loved her. Her family could not hold back tears for someone they would always miss, and I found myself unable to hold back tears of my own. When at a funeral, regardless of how well you know the deceased, matters of mortality, love and relationships still pertain. Death is so relevant. Funerals make you think. It could’ve been my grandmother in the coffin, and one day it will be. We can all empathise with loss… Through the fear of loss. My grandmother sat next to me during the funeral service and I was so scared. I held onto her arm in the taxi ride home and told her for the zillionth time that I love her.
I like funerals because there’s so much love in one place. It’s there in the anecdotes, the chuckles that may seem out of place and the smiles that break across people’s nostalgic faces as they dab their eyes. I like funerals because what people are doing is remembering and celebrating a life. One life. But one that is indescribably significant. It’s like saying I’m so glad you existed! and thank you for being all the beautiful things that you are. We’re all here for you. I liked the funeral service today because although death may be unsettling, this feeling was subdued by hope and comfort; the best part comes after death! Underneath it all, whether it be life or not-life (whatever death is), is God’s great love. It took me by surprise how even arguably the most depressing event one can face (the death of a loved one), can yield a profound gratitude for God. His provision, His promise, His grace.
We sang 耶和華是愛. God is love. And nothing in that moment struck me as being more truthful, more perfect, more real.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
– Psalm 23:4