As I walk into the chapel, white roses, poppies, and sunflowers fill the room. The smell is entrancing and instantly takes me back to my mother’s garden. The vividly colored stained glass windows are open and the warmth of the sun glistens on everyone’s skin. A full orchestra plays music and you can distinguish the various instruments. The lively beats bounce off the walls, the sound echoes throughout the halls and can be heard outside. It’s breathtaking!
In the midst of what would normally be heartache, there is an overwhelming sense of joy. It is a celebration of life rather than a loss of one. There are tears, but they are only bittersweet. I watch as loved ones greet each other with warm embraces and soft words of condolence.
As I find my seat, a man in his mid-thirties begins to walk up where the casket is front and center. Everyone becomes silent as he speaks. The music softens to a faint melody in the background. He talks of a woman – a woman he describes as a beautiful and complete individual.
He speaks of a time after his addiction when he had lost all faith in people. His faith was rekindled in her. “She possessed noble qualities, that of which embodied her bold character,” he says.
Three more speakers follow after him. They all have unique stories with similar traits. Each describe in loving details her kind and compassionate personality. The woman’s brother ends the ceremony recalling “she saw the good in people, even when they could not see it in themselves. Her love was abundant and unconditional. She did not judge for she believed herself to be no better than any other. She did not hate for she knew it would only consume the heart. Instead she forgave so that her heart remained open and welcoming. Her wisdom came with age. Her knowledge earned from her ever-growing curiosity of the world. She lived a life that was her own. To be in her presence, was to feel her love, and it made you feel more alive.”
I watch everyone as they line up to view the open casket to pay their respects. I know I should do the same, so I quickly get in line. Soon it is my turn. I walk up to the casket and look down to see a beautiful stranger, but what I see couldn’t be real – for the stranger lying there is me.
I invite you to attend your own funeral. How would you like to be remembered? This is a popular reflection exercise. While it may seem morbid, it unconsciously allows you to get in touch with your deepest values, as life takes on a different perspective. You are left to examine the life you’re currently living.