Wearing a Party Dress to a Funeral - Thoughts on Life and Death
Age can be measured not only by years, but by the events we’re attending. As young adults, we attend a lot of weddings. Then there’s the baby showers and christenings, followed by the graduations of our friends’ offspring and, of course, their weddings. And then, at a certain point, we start going to a lot of funerals.
It seems like lately I’ve been to more than my fair share of funerals. But at least these days, funerals have started being more commonly referred to as “a celebration of life.” It’s no longer quite such a solemn and morose thing, More of a balance of laughter with the tears, fond reminiscing with the sadness. Heartfelt, funny stories, home movies and candid photos caught at awkward moments. And I kept thinking to myself that, the saddest thing of all, is that the dearly departed didn’t get to enjoy the celebration.
Many of the funerals I’ve attended lately have been for friends who were closer to my husband than to me, so unfortunately I feel I learned more about them in death than I knew about them in life.
Champions of industry and justice, makers of award-winning films and grammy-winning music, fighters for causes; stellar parents and grandparents who came up with the silliest of games and rituals that are indelibly written in the hearts of their offspring and their offspring’s offspring. A lifetime, summed up in a one-hour service.
And it occurred to me on more than one occasion, that all the accolades and kind words and admiration need to be shared a whole lot more while the story’s still being read, rather than waiting until the last page has been turned.
But then, of course, we’re all so busy, aren’t we? Somehow this digital age, which makes everything faster and easier and more convenient, has sucked the time out of our lives. We’ve replaced social contact with social media. We used to go out to movies with our friends, now we each watch them separately on Netflix, in the privacy of our own homes.
A few months ago, I had the honor of throwing a surprise birthday party for a dear friend, on the occasion of a, let’s say “mature” birthday. It was a cozy group of around 20 friends, each telling stories about special shared moments. And I thought THIS, this is everything you would want at a funeral without, you know, that one thing.
And so, I’m making a new manifesto –
Put on your party dress, and celebrate life with the people you love, not after they’re gone.
Reach out to your friends, even the ones you don’t know that well, and tell them how much you admire them.
Never leave your kind words unsaid. And leave the unkind ones unsaid forever.