Funerals: Not a time for remorse but celebration Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Jun. 21, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Grand Mom column by Audrey Mettel Fixmer

When I was a kid back in the 30s and 40s, Grandma often came for a visit, always dressed in black, and usually it was a funeral that brought her to town.

I thought that was so weird. Did she enjoy funerals? Was that the only thing on her social calendar?

Well, guess what? I’ve arrived at that age when I open the paper first to the obituary page. First I check out to see if there’s someone I know. Then, I average the ages to see how I’m doing.

On a good day I’m younger than any of them. On a bad day I’m older. Too often, it seems, I find a friend has passed and I feel a stab of pain for the spouse and I want to express my sympathy and attend the funeral.

Final salvation at last

When I recently attended the funeral of my dear friend Betty, it occurred to me that funerals are really good for us seniors. They remind us of our own mortality, of course.

That may seem frightening for younger people, but for us older folks, who have lived long, fulfilled lives already, and have lost so many loved ones ourselves, death is the natural crossing over into a better place.

At least in a Christian funeral, the emphasis is on the final salvation after a long life of work and suffering.

Our pastor always delivers an upbeat eulogy. “There is no resurrection without death, no Easter without Good Friday,” he said at Betty’s funeral. For people of faith “it’s a no-brainer” as the kids would say.

Nothing about Catholic funerals is morose. From the beginning, when the white garment is placed on the coffin by family members to remind us that Baptism has made us heirs to heaven, to the grand finale, complete with chant and incense, when the soul is dispatched “on angels’ wings,” the Catholic funeral is solemn but upbeat.

Sharing memories

The social aspect of funerals is good for us too. It is an opportunity to say our personal goodbyes and give closure to our relationship with the deceased.

It’s good to get out and mix with folks we knew “back when” and look at the photos to remember how beautiful we were in our youth and reminding ourselves that we will be beautiful again when we have our “glorified bodies” in heaven.

And it’s good to see and share memories with the children who grew up and moved away and returned with children of their own. We share memories with them and with our old friends as well.

In our church we often bring a dish to add to the luncheon prepared by the parish ladies, then join friends and family to do more remembering as we enjoy the lunch.

I leave these funerals feeling hopeful and upbeat, the tune of “On Eagles Wings” still running through my head.

Today’s funerals are certainly not the dreary dramas we imagined as children. (My apologies to Grandma)

Now don’t get me wrong. Although I no longer fear death, I’m not in a hurry to experience it either. I have things to do . . . like try that new casserole or dessert recipe, and places to go . . . a lot more funerals, probably.

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