So Funerals Have to be so Sad…

Posted: June 1, 2010 in Subtle Touch
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A big congratulations to my dear blogging friend Joe Hart . He has a double celebration going on. A one year anniversary for his blog and an amazing 200,000 hits. Joe Hart through his writings is such an inspiration. If you haven’t visited his site, you really are missing out.

I have been asking myself, do funerals have to be sad, or at least sad to the extent we often see. I know there will always be an element of sadness with the passing, the loss of a loved one. That is understandable and perfectly normal. I do sometimes wonder though, we as a society are so much affected by the expectations of fitting into the norm. What is the norm for a funeral. It seems great sadness, shows of grief and such. I am not a doctor or a man of the clergy and as such can speak with no authority and am only expressing my own personal thoughts and preferences. I am very sure open displays of grief as we see are very therapeutic for many and help in the healing process. If it is a helpful tool for those left behind, excellent I am all for it. I certainly mean no disrespect to those grieving. Grief is a very individual thing and whatever form works best for you, it the way to go. When there is a loss of a loved one there will always be sadness and grief, I know that.

Still for myself and within myself I have to wonder, is it the only way to get closure? I don’t know.

I have long had the thought in my head. “mourn not what you have lost but instead celebrate what you have had”. I do think this is an excellent philosophy to apply to all things in our life. Good advice, easily said but so difficult to put into practice when it deals with the loss of a loved one. This is a thought though that did help me tremendously at the time of the passing of my loved ones. This is not to say, I wasn’t sad or grieving, it is just that it did help me.

I suppose largely, it will depend on your individual view of death and what follows. At the time I had absolutely no doubt in my mind she was going to a much better place. I still do not question that thought at all. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I can’t help but be happy for them (sad for me) knowing they has indeed gone to such a wonderful place and that when the time is right I will be with them again. Again, words so easy to say, but so difficult to appreciate when in the midst of grief.

Largely, I am not fearful of what lies ahead for me, a little nervous maybe but not fearful. My dread and fear comes in when I think of the loved ones I am leaving behind. I so desperately want them to all have good happy lives. I never want them to ever have any pain or grief in their lives. OK, I know that is an unrealistic hope as some pain and grief will come to all. I can only hope I am not the cause of any of it. Yet it is inevitable when I pass there will be grief and sorrow.

I am certain in some way, in some spiritual form I will be able to attend or look down on my own funeral.

What would I personally prefer to see. My family and friends all gathered in great sadness, in obvious pain or a reasonably happy group gathered to reminisce about our happy times together. Celebrating and I hope appreciating our time together. Laughing telling jokes even if they are at my expense, I certainly know I have given every one enough to be able to come up with some sort of a joke about my often silly ways. Celebrate what we had, instead of mourning what is lost. The loss is only temporary.

I am not sure how this transition from the physical to spiritual works, but I can’t help but think I may be aided on my way knowing, my life gave reason for a celebration.

Maybe, this is a final act of selfishness on my part, I don’t know.

I ask for comments. Can we turn a funeral into a celebration of life? Would doing that take away from the healing process of the families?

  1. Murwana Abbas says:

    Sadness, natural and unmitigated, is a beautiful expression — whether in a picture or a story or in our real lives. The stifling of that expression will, I feel, result in a silent suffering that is much more painful than the exhibition of grief that we see in very many funerals.

    There is a saying in Hindi, khushi baantnein se barhti hai, aur ghum baantnein se kum ho jaati hai, which means: “joy increases when shared, pain is alleviated when shared”.

  2. Martha Singh says:

    Sadness and joy are both extreme emotions, hence we cry with joy, or laugh in the face of sadness or fear.

    I don’t know. Death scares me. I am glad it doesn’t scare you.

  3. Martha Singh says:

    Sadness and joy are both extreme emotions, hence we cry with joy, or laugh in the face of sadness or fear.

    I don’t know. Death scares me. I am glad it doesn’t scare you.

  4. Jessica Krupali says:

    Celebrate the life is the way forward.

    You can still be sad and still cry but at least if you can laugh about the person, too and share funny stories, you are able to release some of the tension and the negative stuff. I say this having attended my fair share of funerals contrasted with the “celebrations of the life of…” which are traditional in my own family. The celebrations win hands down! They are cathartic, fun and give closure. The funerals are stressful, sad and utterly miserable. Go celebrate! That’s what I say, it’s not egotistical at all, it’s consideration for others!

  5. Catherine says:

    when I talk about celebrate, it’s like the person is there but we can’t see them so we are celebrating their passage into the next life which we see as a good thing – luckily nobody has been a bad mutha so far! So it’s like we’re celebrating with them… It’s not forced jollity though, there’s no pressure not to cry because that’s not going to help anyone, the idea is, I suppose that laughter and tears are not so far apart and are often as cathartic as each other. That the emotional release, however it’s done, is what’s important.

    I also think that the act of talking about the person, reminiscing and sharing stories reawakens your memory of them and you go away with a vivid picture of who they were. After a blub-fest you don’t have that, you just go away feeling lonely and sad.

    Works for my family, that’s all I’m saying.

  6. Sabika Khan says:

    For those who say they have completely gotten over the loss, I can only wonder how one can. Loss is forever, eternal, that yearning and wanting never leaves you, completely. Yes, life goes on, but in a different and more profound aspect.

  7. Stella Rangin says:

    I sure wouldn’t want a lot of crying and grieving to be my finally statement! Un doubtedly, there has got to be some grief at any funeral whether it be for human or animal. But surely there should be more to anyone’s life than ending it with grief. The problem with funerals is they’re so definitively final. That’s why it’s important to consider our legacy as we live. What will we leave behind??? Whatever lessons we have left behind is what will live on and on. Our words and actionsin this life, on a small and on a grand scale, have impacted so many. I hope I have left a good legacy, I hope I have fought the good fight. I hope I have been here to serve and not to be served. So many will forget who I was and what I did, but I hope they never forget how I tried to make them feel. I am rambling…

    Peace be with you, Wiseman.

  8. Mel Carter says:

    Hi, Dear Miq:

    As I have mentioned this morning, a funeral serves two purposes.

    1) It is Kathasis (Greek) that allows the living an opportubnity to cry out for healing through mourning and griefing.

    2) It’s also a celebration of life as a life that has been well lived and as one that has gone on the other side of the Great Divide to be with a loving Father in eternity where there is no pain or tears. (Revelations).

    A funeral serves both purposes, and we need no apology for either.

    Is it going to be tear-shedding sadness? yes.

    Is it okay to celebrate a happy transition into something better? Yes.

    Therefore, a funeral can a be a bitter-sweet experience, Miqdad.

    A life well lived deserves a happy funeral where life is celebrated.

    God bless

  9. Jo Hart says:

    Bill this is the same thing that brings dread onto me when I think about my own death

    My dread and fear comes in when I think of the loved ones I am leaving behind. I so desperately want them to all have good happy lives. I never want them to ever have any pain or grief in their lives.

    It is what gets left behind…

    I don’t think turning a funeral into a celebration of life is a bad thing. I do however have strong doubts that many would be able to do just that. From my own loss throughout my life I know that it is the toughest thing to do in the time of mourning…to celebrate the life they had and not the death. Easier said then done.

    I would want my death to be a celebration of the life I had lived when I die. I want it so much that I have prepared documents that detail what I would like done. I hope my loved ones are able to carry the requests out.

    I want people to celebrate the life I was fortunate enough to live even if at times I thought the life was unbearable.

    Great post here Miqdad!!!

  10. Altamash Jiva says:

    A funeral in the Black tradition, and, I know I am generalizing to a certain degree, are often called, “a homegoing.” Yes, folks are sad, but it is a time to honor and praise the person who has gone on, or gone home spiritually.

  11. Tere says:

    Dying should not be sad. We are all going to die. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Please read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. I do not know your religion. I am a Christian. My brother in-law is in Hospice dying with a brain tumor. He is 54 years old. We have peace knowing that one day we can see him again. We love him.

    God’s strength and peace be with you also and those you love.

  12. Ammar Haque says:

    I think it’s nice when the people gathered can let out whatever emotions surface, whether that means bawling their eyes out or remembering something funny and laughing.

  13. Jamal Panwahar says:

    I agree. I have never been to a funeral or viewing where it was strictly celebratory. There has always been a touch of sadness or crying. We are human. And, even if we feel that our loved one is going to a better place, or going Home, or whatever religious or non-religous belief they have, all emotions can surface, without it being seen as a non-celabration of their life.

  14. Sara Parker says:

    I remember a TV programme a few years ago about young people’s reactions on their friends sudden deaths (traffic accidents, rapid severe illnesses, suicide). One story I remember especially well:

    A 16 year old girl who had left this world was half Norwegian, half African. Her African father followed his home country’s tradition and 10 days after the girl had passed away, he invited all her friends and family to a celebration party where there should be no mourning like in the funeral three days earlier, but only joy to celebrate that they all had been able to be a part of this girl’s life.

    The young friends who we had seen feeling very lost and helpless in the girl’s funeral, now had organized their friend’s favourite music to be played, baked her favourite pizza and shared their favourite stories about her with the rest of her family. Of course many cried in that gathering too, but always with a smile on their lips.

    It seemed so right to see the teenagers happy and proud, and they were certain they would keep in touch with their friend’s family. – It is much easier to stop by when I know it is allowed to laugh in this house, one of them said.

  15. HopeShow says:

    No matter how emotionally and logically prepared you feel you are for the loss of a loved one (even if you know ahead of time), you are never entirely prepared, until they have died, and until you have gone through the experience of the physical loss.

  16. Quin Quinn says:

    You will not be able to escape the sadness. It is part of the grieving process. The joy comes with the sadness and it is very bittersweet. There will be crying and laughing at the same time and it will make fbeautiful memories.
    When my father passed away we all had a good giggle as we prepared to leave the cemetary. It was February and the funeral directors car got stuck in a snowdrift. It seemed a fitting send off for dad who loved a good laugh. It’s wonderful that fifteen years later we can still laugh over this experience.
    Your life will be beautiful memories for your family and friends. I am sure that they will find the bittersweet laughter among the tears. Please don’t ask them to hide their tears. It won’t help them grieve.
    You can look down from Heaven and laugh and cry with them and it will be beautiful.

  17. Dry Tears says:

    Well articulated, and so very true.

  18. Tahir Sheikh says:

    I think that celebration is the way, when i lost a good friend to cancer (she was only 18) though i was distraught, i looked at this loss as a celebration that got to meet this amazing girl that achieved so much, even though her life was cut short. I look at my memories, when she was still around, and they still make me smile. i also look at it that she’s still around, though not in body, but in soul, looking down at us x

  19. SJ says:

    True enough, what all of you have articulated. One of the wonderful things about being human is the capacity to hold paradox. To be able to celebrate even as we experience sadness is a great example of this spiritual principle…thanks for all the beautiful ways you have shared your own experiences of this.

    In my community we have just gone through the death of 5 of our senior sisters in a space of less than 10 days – talk about loss…but what celebrations as well!

  20. Jameel Isphani says:

    I think we cannot change the norm or sadness during funeral. Thats the time we realized the importance of such person and all the regrets. Lots of but and if, we people only few of us appreciate the thing we have exist. We only valued the importance of such one when we lost them…

  21. Dharam Singh says:

    Can we turn Funeral as a celebration? I guess its hard, knowing the fact that these person will never coming back.

  22. Rajeev Kumar says:

    you learn and understand and it makes it easier to cope with everything else

  23. Vijay Kumar says:

    A wow piece of writing 🙂

  24. Chandra Sen says:

    Read me at

  25. Helen says:

    I just wanted to say that I somehow found your blog and have been reading it faithfully ever since. You are a true inspiration to me and have touched my life permanently. Please know how much your thoughts are appreciated and how much I (as I am sure others) get out of every single entry. Thank you for sharing and inspiring ~

  26. Namrita says:

    Hi Miqdad,I am so glad to see your response over there and I am happy to see another daily today because that means u have another wonderful day in u life. Nice job and You deserve more reward from God for that.

    I will be happy if you can E-mail me personally so maybe we can make pen friends. Also, in that way, I can explain my situation to u with some privacy because I feel I should open my heart to my new friends.I am not sure if u have my E-mail or not, but please tell me if u do not have so I can give to u.

  27. Catherine says:

    FANTASTIC post Miq!
    Very very very very true.
    Thank you for your thought provoking, heart melting posts. Last night I was telling my sister about how I read your blog and I was telling her how reading what you have to say makes me want to be a better person and I read what you say and I AM a better person because of the thoughts you share with me!! You cause me to think about things I just take for granted or things that I would just do because it’s what I’ve always done but that is no good reason. You make me think about simple things being gifts, I really apperciate you. If I could I would thank you face to face and give you a big hug.

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