Tag Archives: Humanity

Go to the funeral.

Not for laughs today, but I’ll be back tomorrow with smiles!

Today I went to a funeral. A really sad funeral. This beautiful man was kind, generous, an asset to his community, a treasure to his family and friends and a piece of the world that should have been here for a long time. He was felled by ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was unbearably fast and cruel. He was 59 years old.

So many people were there. I waited in line for over an hour to pay my respects. That’s how many people went to the funeral. But I’m certain there are those who did not come because they ‘don’t go to funerals.’ I know there are thousands of reasons for staying away from a funeral, but there are a million reasons to go to the funeral.

When you go to the funeral, you get and give hugs. Lots and lots of hugs. Hugs have been scientifically proven to make your life better. You get hugs from people you don’t know and people you do know. It doesn’t matter. It’s hugs. And these are good hugs. People want to connect. People want to share their sorrow, grief or even their discomfort. The sharing is the best part. Because it’s that kind of hug, it’s serious and comforting.

When you go to the funeral, you see people you haven’t seen for a long time. It might be cousins, aunts, uncles, old high school friends, kids from the neighborhood, their moms and dads, long lost acquaintances, all will be there. And you will be glad to see them. Connecting to your past feels good. You remember the shared times and it reminds you that you’ve been alive for a long time. You’ve touched a lot of lives and you’ve been touched by many others. It reinforces your connection to humanity. You’ve been human for a while and you might have forgotten that—just look how many people you have met and mingled with since you were a toddler.

You might not be ‘of a mind’ with these people but even that’s reaffirming. You made choices. You made a life for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met has had a hand in that. At the funeral, you get to remember that you are a part of it all, and you owe a debt of gratitude to your life and everyone in it.

“Paying your respects,” should not be taken lightly. As someone who has been to many funerals, both as part of the family and as just a member of the community, let me assure you showing up is important. When you show up, you are saying, “I’m sorry this hurts right now” or “I know the long haul was unspeakable for you, may you find comfort in days to come,” or “wow, your loved one lived a long and wonderful life, let me help you celebrate.” By foregoing this opportunity you forego a piece of yourself. You will want that when it’s your turn. You have an internal connection that gives you the grace to connect with all the kind people who have come to your loved one’s funeral.

And you will have a turn. Unless you’re a hermit, it is doubtful that you will get out unscathed. You will have to go to a funeral sooner or later, and probably not just your own. If you skip your Grandma’s funeral because you’re too sad, or your uncle’s funeral because he wasn’t your favorite person, or you’re best friend’s funeral because you are too emotional, or your mom’s or dad’s funeral because they were imperfect, or you loved them so very much you “don’t want to remember them that way,” you not only fail to pay your respects to your loved one and the community that was so important to them, you fail to connect to your own humanity. By taking your own vulnerability and sharing in everyone else’s vulnerability, you increase the goodness. You make us all better. You make you better. You are kind, you are good, you are compassionate.

This one little thing, going to the funeral, has such deep implications for humanity. Just ask John Donne… in 1624 he didn’t say go to the funeral, but he might as well have…..

No [one] is an island, entire of itself; every [one] is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: [anyone’s]’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in [humankind], and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” Adapted from John Donne

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

 

One is Silver and the Other’s Gold…….

Remember in high school this conversation, usually in the girls’ bathroom:

“Oh my God, he’s so cute. I hope he asks  me out!”

“Oh my god he IS SO CUTE!,” replied your girlfriend in the next stall.

Of course this was before you could text between stalls.

My friend Lisa, is going to her high school reunion for the first time. It’s her 45th reunion. Add 18 to that and you have deciphered the age of most of the participants with a certain very tiny margin of error of no more than a year, unless they had an unusually high percentage of child geniuses in her small upstate New York town. I feel quite certain this was one of their former conversations four decades ago.

Oddly, Lisa attended a singing event in that same small upstate New York town several months ago. She made a special effort to contact some old high school friends and voila! She was convinced by these dear, kind friends from the past to make a special effort to get to that reunion.

Since her traumatic brain injury, Lisa does not drive and no one from her high school lives anywhere near her. But these old pals from the past, whom she hasn’t seen in a very long time, have agreed to drive many hours to come pick her up and the same many hours to return her safe and sound to her home.

This has restored my faith in humanity.

Lisa hasn’t seen these people from high school in many years. She hasn’t spoken to several of them at all since high school ended. And yet, these girls (yes, I’m going to call them that) are willing to make big sacrifices to get her transported, housed and taken care of so that they can all reminisce about their teenage lives.

I have been know to comment that “high school never ends”, and not in a good way. I have seen cattiness, jealousy and spitefulness continue among high school compatriots all around me. And, of course, we see it as a staple in reality TV like “Real Housewives” of anywhere, “The Bachelor(ette)”and any “reality” show requiring contestants to compete for attention, living space, food, or screen time so they can be famous. This is high school behavior at its finest. Small-minded, petty, self-serving behavior. It might be fun to watch, but it’s really not fun to be in the midst of it.

Life has continued to become a popularity contest, and not in a good way. What else would you call a host of mudslinging, bully tactics designed to make your opponent look bad in the eyes of the student body…oh a political campaign, that’s right.

I am one of those few lucky girls who even after 40 years of  high school,  still regularly sees my high school girlfriends who are a rock solid foundation of support, fun, and constant joy in  my life.

That my friend, Lisa, has rediscovered the possibility that old friends could be ‘gold’ does my heart good.

This, of course, did not exempt any of these 60-something women from having a big internet powwow in the last few days about whose old boyfriend will be showing up and which of those might be single and a possible “love connection.”

I imagine those ladies in the girls’ bathroom this weekend when they see their former flames saying:

“Oh my God, he’s still so cute, I wonder if he’s single?”

“Oh my God, he is cute, and he has his own teeth AND HIS OWN HAIR?!?!?”

See, high school never ends…….no, really, it’s true. If only you knew that when you were in high school.

“You Just have to Laugh………..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski