I don't think I like funerals. I don't know anyone who does, really. Just when you think you're out of tears from simply hearing about a death, you go to the calling hours and the funeral and see everyone and you cry all over again. Your eyes just hurt from being constantly on the verge of tears. And there's a lot of hugging and handshaking.
Some of it's awkward. I found myself having to introduce my husband to a lot of people, and it's pretty much the worst time to feel like you have to do that. These people can barely see through the tears and I have to say, "Oh, and this is my husband," knowing full well they're seeing so many people (through blurry, teary eyes) that they won't remember him or me or probably most of the day. I don't blame them. There's also the social grace of having to say, "Hey, how are you?" We're all at a funeral. Everyone's answer is going to be, "Well, not great, obviously," or, "As good as can be expected." If someone answers with something more jovial than one of those, they either didn't hear the question or they didn't know the honoree very well.
Actually, there is one thing I like about funerals: I like seeing my family. We don't all get together very often. Just for weddings and funerals, really, and there seem to have been more of the latter in recent years. I especially like seeing my cousins. We were raised like siblings for most of our lives, and now we're all spread out. Hanging out with them those couple of days kind of felt like old times. 'Cept sadder. Although there's some time after the calling hours and the funeral and everything where you can breathe again and talk about things that aren't sad. You can even smile and laugh and enjoy the company of the people around you for a little while.
I like reminiscing about the person who died and sharing good memories. My favorite one of my brother-in-law is Thanksgiving my junior year of college. I hadn't really been invited anywhere for Thanksgiving, and I was stuck in my residence hall feeling horribly lonely. My car was also a piece of junk and wasn't going anywhere in all the snow we were having (ah, Cleveland weather!). I called my sister and she said, "Of course you can come here for Thanksgiving, silly! We're not doing anything special, but you're always welcome!" The problem was getting there. My roommate offered to drive me about halfway, since she lived in their direction, and my brother-in-law said he'd come out and pick me up from there. In a near-blizzard. I remember thinking, "He's so nice, doing this for me. It's just like I'm his real sister." It was pretty great.
I guess the point of a funeral is to help begin the healing process. I've never been at a funeral and thought, "Oh, good. Now I feel like healing." I think it really starts the grieving process. If you have the benefit of a lot of notice before the death of a loved one, maybe you get to start grieving early and healing at the funeral. I don't know. It's probably different for everyone. I just know I find myself on crying jags about every other day. Sleeping is difficult. I feel like perhaps I'm not supposed to talk about anything else just yet—keep my Facebook status somber and prayerful and helpful and try not to be funny. What is the right amount of sad?
Maybe funerals aren't the problem. Maybe death is the problem. If we could only find a cure for that, right? We'd all feel a lot better.
Then again, if we all lived forever, where would we park?