Life has been a bit grim lately and it is reflected in my writing. As I explained to someone, I have no control over what I blog. The thoughts come and I chase them to the keyboard. I haven’t lost my sense of humour. That’s harder to shift than a politician in the limelight – but my musings are currently not trotting down the laugh track. Trying – truthfully somewhat unsuccessfully so far – to channel my inner Maya Angelou: “No matter how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
Recent events have me thinking about what will happen when I die. No, I don’t mean the hereafter. I’m a Christian (Anglican with a capital A, to be precise) and I believe in the afterlife. I know I will see my loved ones after I’ve passed on. What I am talking about is the sequence of events once I’ve departed – specifically my funeral. Who will attend?
I did a rough count in my head of the likely suspects. I reckon about fifty people. Surprisingly, when I analysed the attendees I realised most of them would be people who felt obliged to my parents, husband or children. Less than 40% would be attending for me. This got me thinking – what does this say about me as a person? Is it that I have made so little impact on the world that my passing will be relatively unnoticed? Or have I lost my identity and am now seen only as somebody’s wife/mother/daughter?
Further questions arose. Why do we go to funerals? Of the funerals we attend, how well do we know the deceased? What did they mean to us? I came to the conclusion that my attendance at the vast majority of funerals has been as a result of my connection to the family of the deceased. Most of those who passed I knew peripherally at best. Perhaps this is a good thing. It implies that in my lifetime I have lost few persons I truly loved. But it also implies that I attend funerals principally out of a sense of duty – and I’m sure I am not alone in this.
The aha moments kept coming. So….if I don’t know the people whose last rites I attend very well, how well do the people who (may) attend mine know me? Despite my dependence on the internet (OK, so I need a twitter or FB hit to get through my day), the truth is – not many. I share what I feel comfortable with the world knowing. The inner me is very private. Which leads me back to the original question – who will attend my funeral? Is the number of attendees a reflection of my life?
Experience leads me to think emphatically yes. But I’ve also realised that it is not necessarily how many people you impact, but why. If only three people attend but they are people to whom I truly meant something, and who I have influenced positively in some way, my life was not wasted. The death is not important. It’s the life that matters.
And therein lies the answer to my question. I should not be concerned with who, but why. Luckily I figured this out while I still have time to impact the eventual outcome. A life lesson learned…through death.
Care to share your thoughts on this topic? Comment away.