Just as weddings aren’t about what grooms want, funerals, I suppose, aren’t about what the dead want. Okay, that could be a bad comparison.
I get that my funeral isn’t really for me. Nonetheless, here’s what I don’t want: a celebration of my life. I’m dead; I don’t want people celebrating anything. I want them mourning. Tears. Sadness. Lots of black clothes. I may pay some old Irish ladies to come keen at my grave. Let my enemies celebrate.
Yes, this is heresy. We Americans don’t only believe in the pursuit of happiness—we believe we must catch it and squeeze until it falls like a dead puppy from our hands. We will not allow grief and loss to intrude even when people are so rude as to die. So when they do die, we invite everyone to a celebration of their life. I know people at these celebrations actually do mourn, so why must we call it a celebration?
I hereby invite, upon my death, people to gather and mourn their loss—however slight it may be. I say this because a well-meaning pastor might say, “Mark would not want us mourning his passing, but would want us to remember all the good times of his full life.” Nope. I want you to cry.
Now this could seem selfish and insensitive, but it isn’t. I’ll be dead, for crying out loud. Your grief will do nothing for me. And the thought of your tears brings me no ego-driven satisfaction—only my own tears.
My insistence on mourning could even seem unspiritual since Scripture says we who have faith do not grieve as those without hope. Yes, as Christians we grieve a temporary loss of the person—we have a hope of eternity and glory when all weeping is over and every tear is dried.
As believers, we grieve differently—but we still grieve. Every tear will be dried—but we must first have tears.
So yes, my funeral is not for me, but neither is my request for mourning. I deeply desire your comfort and blessing. I simply believe Jesus spoke truly when he said, “Blessed are those that mourn for they will be comforted.”