10 Life Lessons I Learned at a Funeral

  1. Make your own decisions, or someone else will. This doesn’t just apply to your last wishes, but your entire life.
  1. Dwelling on the past (regrets) is a waste of energy.  No matter what mistakes you’ve made, you can’t turn back time. Carrying them around like a pack mule benefits no one. Acknowledge them and resolve to do better.
  1. If you’re not living the life you really want, change it. That includes the relationships you engage in, the jobs you work, and the lifestyle you live.
  1. You can’t please everyone, especially parents. Parent-pleasing can breed resentment. Be yourself anyway. They are.
  1. Own your beliefs. If you are not a follower, don’t be one of the herd for just for appearances.
  1. You don’t know what you don’t know until you learn. There are questions you won’t know to ask until you have the answers.
  1. Everyone processes emotions in their own way. Denial, deflection, humor, suppression, pacing, compulsiveness, etc. Allow loved ones the space to do what they need to do.
  1. There are those who leave their hometown and those who stay. The “why” is personal. Some of us need to lay down roots. For the rest, only a touchstone is required.
  1. Family can love you and not always like you, and might never understand you. Be okay with that.
  1. Food brings everyone to the conversation. You can overhear a lot even at a long table. When people are face to face, it’s impossible not to engage, if only in body language.  A meal helps people feel normal, even if they aren’t hungry. The ritual of it can defuse or ignite emotions. Lean toward compassion first.

 

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2 thoughts on “10 Life Lessons I Learned at a Funeral

  1. I so believe in the importance of rituals. Unchurched as we were, I nevertheless made rituals for my children on every holiday, every solstice and equinox, every life event. Always with food. More than 60 years ago, while I was attending The Curtis (The Curtis Institute of Music was its official name, Philadelphia’s Juilliard, except that everyone at Curtis was there on a scholarship), one of my part-time jobs was across Rittenhouse Square at The Church of the Holy Trinity. An ugly Episcopal church, famous for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” having been written there. I was secretary to Father Parmalee, a curate in charge of the “Youth Fellowship,” which meant young singles in those days. He believed that nothing brought people together like food. “Feed them and they will come, feed them and they will bond, feed them and they will temper their disagreements.”

    1. I completely agree. My sister-in-law spoke of her new grandkids being raised by parents who are so “on-the-go” that the kids had never dined at a table until they came to stay with her. “It’s just like a family!” one announced.

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