I attended a funeral recently, an odd one, in my mind. Odd not because it was held in a church that rented its space from a strip mall, or because there were folding chairs instead of pews, or because the pastor was a woman. (Though those things are ‘new’ to me. I haven’t been to a traditional church (or non-traditional, I guess) in a very long time.) It was odd because it was sad.
I know for many that statement is crazy – of course funerals are sad. I’m not disagreeing, though in general I do see death as a welcome shift from an often challenging life into an easy, blissful one. Funerals are sad for US – those that are left behind when someone we love moves on. This one was sad for the family, of course, and the close friends… but the thing that made it odd, was the general sadness… the way the whole idea of death was handled.
In this particular case, the deceased had been suffering with a terrible illness for a very, very long time. The thing that bothered me was that there was no celebration. No real gratitude for the relief our friend had finally been gifted, a return to the bliss of heaven – at least according to the belief system generally held by this particular church. Worse yet, the Pastor suggested the question in most minds and hearts was why a God that loved them as they believed, would allow this terrible disease to wreak havoc on this body for so long. And to top it off, she didn’t offer a possible answer to the question – not more than the traditional ‘we have to have faith’.
I realize my particular belief system is not for everyone. It may not be for ANYONE, except me. But, since the experience inspired an impassioned response from me, I wanted to share my version of the Pastor’s message here.
We die because we wanted to. We suffer for the same reason.
I believe god is just an energy. An energy held by each of us. An energy that is our very souls and is – taken together – god manifest. I believe our souls come to this plane, in this lifetime, to learn and grow and connect and re-connect… and that EVERYTHING that happens is a result of our souls drawing to themselves the kinds of experiences we asked for, in order to learn the things we wanted to learn.
I believe my deceased friend’s soul came to this earth plane with an intention of suffering… and that those of us around him wanted to learn from our role in his life, taking care of him as his body gave out and then learning from the experience of surrendering him back to the higher collection of god energy.
Even as I write this I can see how it might come off as insensitive and crass, and please know that I mean it to be anything but that. I loved this person, he played a beautiful role in my life and I am so grateful for all his spirit taught me while we shared our lives together. I understand the pain that is brought on by the hole left in our lives by his passing. I realize the Pastor only meant to comfort a group of wounded hearts.
I simply want to offer the possibility that we all asked to be a part of this, that we all learned something from it. And I want to take a moment to make my wishes known: when I die, PLEASE, throw a party. Tell each other what you learned from me, or from my Alzheimers, or from my cancer. Remind each other how glad you are that I am free of a body that feels pain, how glad you are we had the time together, and how much you are looking forward to my barging in while you sleep to talk to you in your dreams. Remind each other that I LOVED being alive, and that I was perfectly comfortable with death. Tell each other that you’ll remember me when I am reincarnated as a tree, and drop a leaf on your granddaughter’s lawn. And for god sakes – throw yourselves a party!