The longer we live, the more people we know who die. Live long enough and all of your friends will be gone. The good news is that if you are reading this, you must be alive. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad for you. Think about it. Going to heaven with your previously deceased family and friends is a once in a lifetime experience. It must be awfully good on the other side as no one ever comes back and complains.
Why do we mourn the loss of loved ones? I’ve always fought death and hated going to funerals. I cry at funerals. I’m not supposed to. I’m supposed to be there to support the family who has lost a loved one. Many years ago, I went to the funeral of a dear patient and spiritual leader of the community. I prepared myself for one of those sad and miserable experiences, expecting hundreds of mourners with feelings of profound loss. Instead, I walked into a celebration. This was not a wake, but a true celebration of Ray’s death. I was dumbfounded.
My confusion led me to seek answers from a longtime patient and friend who was standing near the family of the departed. My patient explained that Ray had graduated from his earthly duties and, as a graduate of life, was now in heaven. I was at a graduation ceremony and there was reason to celebrate. Sure, everyone would miss Ray but everyone was happy he had matriculated and moved on to bigger and better things.
Ray’s funeral was a life changing experience. I still cry at funerals but I view our earthly existence from a different perspective. If Ray’s family and friends are right, then we will all meet up in heaven for a good time. What a grand idea. If they are wrong, then we will be pioneers much like the crew of the star ship Enterprise studying the great unknown.
Either way, it behooves us to enjoy every day to its fullest and, when its our turn, accept whatever follows.