Yesterday was the funeral for my kindred spirit.
It took place at a Lutheran church. Funerals tend to make me think two things:
- how well does the person doing the service speak to the emotional needs of those present
- what rituals are done to help the people process the moment (with a postscript ponderation on Wiccan and Pagan rituals around death, or lack thereof)
These can be the same thing but not necessarily so. Sometimes the service addresses the emotional component without ritual. Sometimes the ritual is about a spiritual moment rather irrespective of the funeral.
Our clergy are not trained, not in the go to school, classroom, teacher way. Many of us find our own way (though some are lucky to have guidance!). We aren’t given pre-set forms on how to handle death for a congregation or psychological training for handling the emotional impact. I’m not saying we can’t and aren’t good at it, just that we don’t have a formal training system to make sure we all get there with a measured level of competence.
We also don’t have pre-set rituals. I mean, here we were, a crowd of probably 150 people lined up in the pews, sharing bound books with the order of the ceremony laid out, complete with hymn references and prayers. Go to any Lutheran church and I’m betting it’s the same. I also wouldn’t be surprised on similarities between different Christian sects.
Again, not a bad thing that we don’t have such hidebound fixed rituals. ;) But I wonder if we will feel a lack in future years when more of us start passing on (an interesting part of being such a young religion). There was such comfort for people in being able to share the familiar ritual. It was a touch-stone, a grounding, a communal centering into the moment that would lay pathways to help make things just a little easier in the days to come.
I think I’d be the type to want a wake. Sure, a eulogy would be nice, but I’d love for people to share stories about me (I don’t think there would be a lack of them), to remember me as I am in life. I think I will contemplate the ritual part. I may even get back to you with it.
Have you thought about it? How you want those left behind to deal with your absence? Have you told anyone so that it may actually happen?
As promised, a postscript (originally I was calling this a funny postscript, but as I wrote it up I realized that it wasn’t really funny, but I still found it interesting):
At 3 in the morning (why, oh why, is it always 3 in the morning for such things?) last night my cats woke me up with thunderous running on my balcony. Since they’re only allowed out if they behave I pulled myself out of bed and called at them to come in. They were more than a little slow at it but finally arrived and I shoved the door shut behind them.
That was when I noticed what had caused the delay. The cause of the noise outside was a big, chubby moth that they’d been playing with. They came inside but only after they’d grabbed the moth and carried it in with them.
I was heart-bursting proud at that moment that they’d listened to me. (Following a command rather than just doing what they want was impressive for a pair of brattish cats, but doing so when there was a live creature involved was just this side of miraculous.)
It also struck me as funny given that of course they would have their own way in the end.