As I lay awake in bed last night my brain would not shut off. Like many of the rest of you (I’m sure) I wish it had an off switch for bedtime. I eventually had to get out of bed to stretch and meditate for about 10 minutes before I fell asleep.
Before I decided to summon my inner-zen, my brain started thinking of some of the people I love that are no longer here in body with me. I started counting the number of funerals I’ve been to in my life and in the last four years alone I’ve been to six, the total for my lifetime is twenty-three; grandparents, aunts, great aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends, parents and grandparents of close friends, classmates. I’m at a point in my life where if I’m contemplating buying a piece of black clothing I always ask myself, is this funeral wear? If the answer is yes, I can justify buying it but last night I started to re-think black.
I understand black is a colour of mourning but a funeral isn’t about who’s attending it in body, it’s about the person who’s attending it in spirit. Over the past five years, wedding dresses have started to change from white to off-white to white with bright colours to soft pastels and even black. A bride wearing white used to be about purity but I hardly believe that’s true anymore, so if weddings aren’t about wearing white anymore, why do funerals have to be about wearing black?
Maybe instead of wearing black to a funeral we wear something the departed loved. Everyone show up with something blue or green or with vintage cars or trains or baseballs and celebrate the life we can no longer physically hug or talk to. Or if they wore flowers in their hair or feather earrings, put those on too. I can remember being fourteen years old at the funeral of a classmate and putting a pack of Bubblicious gum in his hand at the viewing before the service because it was his favourite thing. I wear a feather ribbon on my coat to show how much I love and miss one of my BFF’s. My cousin was buried with a sleeve of golf balls because it was one of his passions.
I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to clap after I’ve heard a wonderful eulogy or watched a touching slideshow; those are the parts of the services I feel we should be celebrating. A wedding is a celebration, isn’t it? The only difference between a wedding and a funeral is the live body to hug. They’re both celebrating parts of life but one is just a chapter and the other is the whole book. This person lived a full and wonderful life and is no longer here in body but is for sure watching over us in spirit. Why aren’t we cheering and clapping over their accomplishments? It’s not about the attendees being sad and wanting to mourn, it’s about the guest of honour being celebrated. The last thing they would want us to be doing is being sad because if we’re sad, they’re looking down on us in sadness too.
I don’t want to cross a line and morbidly celebrate death. I’m not saying sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya, I just want to smile more and cry less. Sadly, funerals bring people together and I think it should be an opportunity for love, remembrance and togetherness. Everyone mourns differently but the next time I have the urge to smile and clap after a eulogy or slideshow, I think I will. I’ve decided I’m not there to mourn anymore, I’ll try and get that out of the way before I get there. I’m there to celebrate.
Someone who I respect and whose opinion I value greatly once said that everyone is put on the earth for a different purpose. She thinks of everyone like a professor and when they pass, they personally can no longer continue their teaching but what they taught others in their time in faculty can always live on. How, you ask? In YOU. They were here to teach you something and for the time they were here, you may have learned one or two things from them or you may have learned one hundred things from them. Regardless, they will never truly die if you keep their spirit alive in your life. Teach what they taught. Don’t be afraid to tell others who taught it to you or how you learned it. They will live on through you and your daily interactions.
“As long as we can love each other and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You can live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
The next time you’re shopping, I hope you re-think black too. Much love, Kim.