A friend sent me a link to a video the other day, adamant that I would want to share it with others and also warned me to have kleenex handy. She was right. I do want to share this with others.
The video is an incredible farewell from family and friends to a young man who died very suddenly and unexpectedly. What I found so moving about the video is the realism, the thoughtfulness and the very powerful message that we hear so often but many times want to ignore when we are faced with death ourselves, that you must acknowledge the death, look it right in the eye and find a way to accept it. Over and over again we are told the best way to start that journey is through funeral rituals; being with the dead body, partaking in mourning practices or some kind, whether they are traditional or something newly created that has meaning and allows people to mourn the loss as well as celebrating the life that was lived, and finally carefully choosing a form of disposition (burial or cremation) that fits the needs of the living and the dead. And yet, we so often choose a path that doesn’t prepare us at all to look death in the eye and find a way to accept it. More often than not we just want things to go away quickly. We don’t want to “drag it out” or we rely on experiences from others who have arranged a funeral of some kind, thus just going through someone else’s motions and not meeting any of our own needs. The professionals we turn to for guidance, funeral directors or clergy persons, may present us with options that we can’t identify with at all, but not knowing what else to do and feeling pressure to just get on with it, we acquiesce and end up spending money on something that has little to no value.
So what if we just put out our hand and said, “Stop. Wait. I want something more. I want the sum of this person’s life to matter and to be reflected in the ceremony. I want to be supported and know that I can truly choose how to mourn, whether that means making choices that may seem unconventional to some but are what I need to look death in the eye”. This is exactly what the family and friends of the young man in the film did and the revelations are a lesson to us all.
Watch the video. Have some kleenex handy. Don’t be surprised if you too end up sharing it with others.