Weddings and Funerals
I have been thinking about both of these things lately, my son is being a best man at Easter for a friend of his, 20 years old and getting married, the first thought that pops into my mind is don’t,too young, that is informed by a number of narratives, personal experience, societal norms mainly. A friend of mine attended a wedding recently, too hard she said, too many memories, couples everywhere. Another friend of mine was expressing similar thoughts about a wedding he is going to. There is a common thread about these feelings, negative experiences, hurt and cynicism inform them. I have attended a couple of weddings since I became single, after thinking about them I have to say that I had different attitudes and experiences at both.
Weddings and funerals have a lot of similarities, both take a lot of planning and involve preparation and expense. They are where friends and relatives come together and share emotions, love, mostly, and grief, yes grief even at weddings. Sadness and happiness inextricably linked with each other, even at their most base level, grief only comes through knowing love. Weddings and funerals have elements of loss and gain in them. Rites of passage they are both and they are important milestones in society.
For me they are a reminder of my own singleness, however I am not going to bang on ad infinitum about me. I am going to talk about regrets. As I was driving home from Auckland the other day I reflected after another near miss as a camper van took a sudden turn towards me on the express way. I have had closer experiences with disaster, squashed between a truck and a power pole in a vehicle crash, electrocuted underneath a house to mention a couple of experiences. I vowed then to live a fuller life without regrets. Most of the regrets in my life have come from inaction rather than actions I have done. I counselled someone this week that doing nothing was not an option for them, someone close was dying and they were not sure if they could cope with visiting them. “paying respects” at a funeral just doesn’t really cut it.
I understand some peoples reluctance when they are going to see someone who is terminally ill, what do you say to them, whispering, weak, wet platitudes, how are you doing doesn’t seem to cut it….. There are some people who thrive on the drama of death and dying, professional mourners almost, I have experienced these at some funerals and at death bed scenes, noisy and seemingly abject grief which at first glance looks like they must have been extremely close, yet the reality is far different. Similarly I have been at funerals where people have said they won’t last 5 minutes.
In the case of the former I do wonder if through their very public showing of grief if they are trying to make up for actions past? Perhaps they are mourning the cost of their own actions. In the case of the nay-sayers at weddings, I don’t see why they would come to a wedding that they thought won’t last, why would you waste your time, surely the lure of food and drink is not that strong?
A constant theme that emerges at family funerals I have attended is the narrative that we should meet as a family at celebrations of joyful occasions, we just don’t seem to be as close today in terms of contact with aunts, uncles, cousins as I was in growing up. The effects of separation and divorce hit this as well.
None of these reflections probably come as a surprise to most people I am quite sure, these is symptoms of a modern society that is extremely focused on the individual and are a natural consequence of the all-pervading religion of consumerism that drives society today. Our dog eat dog world is a pernicious sickness that invades and pervades every institution from the church through to that unholiest of places parliament.
I know this because I recognise it, I see it in myself and it disgusts me. If it is not in something external that I do it is that which I see in my own heart. I have seen it in a new light recently and I have had to make some decisions about that which I value and give my time to. It means that some of the things that I have given value have to fall away whilst I concentrate on doing the primary thing that needs my attention and that is being an effective and caring parent.
What does this have to do with weddings and funerals you may well ask. Weddings and funerals are places where regrets are often remembered. I hope that I don’t have those regrets at any of those life markers that I attend. I have enough regrets about things that have impacted on my and my children’s lives already. I do not want to add to that list. My hope is that you read this and examine your own lives and if need be make some adjustments of your own.
With peace and love,