"Now, now. It's all right. Dry those tears. He wouldn't want that."
"He" being the dearly departed.
You know, at every funeral I've ever been to, someone has said that. It's a truism. The mother, the uncle, the brother, the friend who has just been lost wouldn't want to see his/her loved ones so full of sorrow.
Well, true enough, if he were alive. But, since we are all gathered at his funeral, this is clearly not the case.
A friend of mine recently admitted to having avoided a co-worker's funeral. "They're just so sad," he said. "Someone always cries, and I just hate that. I see someone crying, then I cry."
To which I responded, "Well, of course. You're supposed to be sad. That's what funerals are for: to mourn the person together, to gain support from the presence of others who care."
Grief can be a very isolating experience. It's nice - well, it's comforting, at any rate - and healthy, to be able to grieve together.
I don't object to the idea of a wake, I don't object to the notion of celebrating someone's life with a rollicking party. I don't think it's wrong to laugh at a visitation, or at the reception following the funeral (though it's probably best not to break into hysterical laughter during the ceremony). After all, if you cared for the deceased, you will have happy memories. So, yes, you can celebrate their life, remember the good times, laugh with others who share those happy memories. I would hope that, when my time comes, people can laugh with each other in fond remembrance of my more loveable eccentricities.
But there will also - should also - be sorrow. Which may just be expressed through tears.
I just want to say, for the record, so my expectations are clear and unequivocal: I will be seriously pissed off if at least a few tears aren't shed at some point during or after my departure commemorations.
I would like to think that my death will leave a sizeable hole in one or two peoples' lives. I would like to think that someone will genuinely grieve my passing. I would NOT like to think that, after mixing it up at the visitation, after listening to a few solemn proclamations at a funeral, each and every one of them would then proceed blithely onto the rest of their lives without a single backward glance, the occasional tear, a wistful glance, a sense of loss.
Come on, now.
I'm not demanding that every single person who ever knew me, no matter how slightly, be devastated. I'm not demanding a full two years' formal mourning from my family. I don't expect, or even desire, that people never recover from their grief.
But, for a few people, the people I care most about?
Yes, I would like some tears at my funeral.