Since my daughter died,
life feels much more temporary and fragile.
Sickness and death are in the forefront of my reality.
Not in a morbid way, but in an “inevitable part of life” way.
Having attended THE funeral that I never dreampt possible, my perspective on funerals has changed.
I’m embarrased to share that, before Leah died, I’d go to wakes, but many times didn’t make the effort to participate in funerals.
Wakes seem easier to attend …
run in, share sincere condolences and run out.
The long receiving line prohibits time spent with grievers so that I enter into the depth of loss.
Funerals demand close encounters with the emotion of heartbreak.
Since Leah died, I more frequently attend funerals and memorial services.
Why? Because it matters to the person mourning.
Faces of the people who attended Leah’s funeral are etched in my mind.
While somber, funeral services are a time to hear personal stories, dwell on spiritual realities and sing songs of eternal hope.
Funerals, much more intimate, reflect beautiful stories of sorrow, joy and love.
They take us into a sacred space of searing pain, anguish, deep affection and hope.
(As I think forward, my sincere hope is that the people whose lives I touch will pause, remember and risk showing emotion at my funeral – laughter, tears, affection and celebration.)
And after respect is publicly shown, one of the next steps is to “go through things” that may have been cherished items of the person who passed away.
This experience is often either dreaded and causes family turmoil, jealousy, selfishness, anger and heartache or it becomes a treasured time of reflection and remembrance.
Attending estate sales are a good reminder of priorities.
And it’s not about accumulating stuff.
I attended an estate sale this past weekend where a woman left at least 10 large racks of clothes, 50 purses, boxes and boxes of glassware, antique toys and more. The home looked similar to a resale shop.
Walking away – a sadness hit me.
I left not knowing her story. What’s the reason she accumulated so many material items? Did she enjoy them? Was it a hobby? Did they make her happy? Why weren’t they given away to family members?
So much stuff accumulated and for what reason?
Her treasures will now be someone elses’.
Until this person passes away.
Stuff doesn’t matter.
I know it.
Yet, it’s easy to fall prey to the desire for more and more material stuff.
I’m going to stop at estate sales to remind myself how fleeting the enjoyment of earthly treasures are.
A true reality check.
(And I hope that when it is my time to leave this earth – that there isn’t much of “my stuff” left – that I’ve given it all away – spreading little remembrances of my affections to the people for whom I care.)
Funerals and estate sales – I no longer steer clear of them.
I encourage you to take the time to attend funerals and, at least once a year, pull the car over and stop at an estate sale.
There are deep lessons to be learned by spending time at both.
“Do not lay up for yoursleves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yoursleves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matt 6:19-21