Last week Friday, I attended a funeral. This is not the first death this year. Week before last a friend and I attended a wake, two days before that a few of us sent phone condolences for a young man who had a heart attack. His brother and I attended the same elementary school. In June, during a church business meeting, the pastor announced two deaths: someone’s brother and another person’s beloved aunt found in their apartments. The list goes on. Death devastates family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.
Simultaneously, some of us have become immune to death. I’m not being cynical; I’m being real. I think I’m one of those people. While in Bible study, a few days after the movie theater shooting, the pastor asked how did we feel about this shooting, about the violence that seems to surround us daily? Are we sad, in need of justice, angry, questioning God or have we become immune. I didn’t comment. But I knew I had become immune to death.
I can thank my grandfather, deceased now, for my becoming immune to death. In the fourth grade, I attended my first funeral. He lifted me up to get a closer look at the body lying in the casket. I flinched. He whispered in my ear: “if touch a dead body you will not fear death.” It must have worked. I grew up with the silly sayings about death. What candy will save you from dying? Lifesavers. All I need to know is when and where I will die, and I won’t be there. At one point in my life, I wanted to be buried in a trash bag. No need to spend a fortune on a casket. That comment made my ex-husband angry. The simply truth is we are all going to die: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And yes, close relatives have died. In 2005 I buried my youngest and only sister, in 2007 my favorite aunt, also my godmother and the only person who called me cheetah, and 2011 my grandmother. I lived with that angel for the first twelve years of my life. I was considered the eleventh child, rather than a grandchild. So, I understand death up close and personal.
Sitting in that church last Friday, listening to Rev. Lisa Weaver’s message: “Rejoice and Be Comforted” made me realize that death is all around us in all forms and facets. People, places and things die daily. In June, I legally buried my 23-year-old marriage when I received my certified divorce papers. My relationship with my teenager girls died as well. They have chosen to live with their father, and not keep in touch with me, or offer explanation. I have some of my own reasonings, but that’s another blogpost. The end of a three-year contract killed my dream of owning a townhouse. A few friendships have also died along the way.
One woman told me she divorced me as a friend, and if she ever needed something I would be the last person she would ask. That friendship should have died before I spent money on a bridesmaid dress. Now that’s the cynical side of me. Another eleven-year-old collective friendship expired last year; simply one bad email after another, and not one grown person picked up the phone to say what’s happening, let’s fix this.
Surrounded by so much death, brings me back to Friday’s funeral. Despite the people, the things, and the places that die in our life we can’t get stuck grieving, although we should grieve as long as possible. We must rejoice in what we cannot see for God has other plans. And allow yourself to be comforted; even when friends and family go home and we are left alone in our grief.
Are you immune to death?