I get to go to a funeral today. That might seem like a strange thing to be a little bit happy about, but I have missed too many funerals since my kids were born.
I think it’s can sometimes be a good thing for kids to be present at funerals. I believe it’s good for them to be introduced to death and the way people grieve, especially in situations where they haven’t lost someone close to them. I also think that seeing young kids playing happily around the graves, looking at rocks and generally being joyful are a powerful juxtaposition to mourning the passing of a loved one. On the day of a funeral, some people are desperately searching for something to smile about.
But some funerals are sadder than others. The passing of someone elderly is very different to a sudden and unexpected passing of someone who has not yet lived a full life. I also still need to care for my kids, and that may not be practical while I am expressing my own great sadness. While I want to gently expose my kids to grief and loss, I also want to protect them. I don’t want to throw them into the deep end by taking them somewhere where a lot of people are experiencing extreme emotions.
In the past I have been to funerals because I felt an obligation to be there, but having kids has forced me to re-evaluate my feelings. Going to a funeral is a privilege.
I have missed too many funerals this year. Some I didn’t feel were appropriate for Mr 4 and Miss 21 months to attend. Some were too far away and I couldn’t take the kids on such a long drive, only to come straight back. Some I had no babysitter.
I’m not big on ceremony. Truth be told, I don’t go to them for myself, or even really for the person who died. My personal belief is that when someone goes, there is no requirement to attend a funeral to say goodbye to them – I can do that anywhere, at anytime. But it breaks my heart that I haven’t been able to be there to support the friends and family who have lost a loved one. I hate feeling like they think I don’t care about their grief because I haven’t attended a funeral. In 2016, I have actually shed more tears over being unable to comfort those left behind than I have for the person who has passed away.
I am very close to my mother in law. She has considered me her daughter ever since her son and I started getting around together, nearly 18 years ago. One of her best friends passed away, and I am grateful to be going to Beth’s funeral today. I have someone to watch Mr 4, and I feel it will be appropriate to have Miss 21 months with me. It means so very much to me that I will be there today to support my mother in law while she says goodbye to her beautiful friend.
So to Paul Campbell, Phil Massie, Greg Bird Snr and especially to Damo Brennan, may you all rest in peace. I care deeply for the loss your loved ones have experienced, even though I wasn’t able to be present at your funerals with them. But to Beth, I will be at your funeral. I know I don’t have to be there, but I’m grateful that I get to be there.