Attending a funeral is certainly humbling, it reminds us of our own mortality. It leaves us with a feeling of fragility, thinking about and reflecting on our own death; wondering and asking quietly when our own time will be up.
What’s even more depressing about attending a funeral is asking someone next to you, how long they knew [have known] the deceased, only to be told: not long!
You ask what they will most remember and miss about the deceased, they take a long, reflective pause into silence, only to break the silence with: I don’t know, delivered with a “don’t put me on the spot” kind of look on the face.
So, given the moment, the atmosphere, you oblige, and look away, quietly and slowly recoiling into reflective silence about what you’ve just experienced and been witness to about human relations.
Our relations with others suffer a great deal particularly in the current world in which we [tend to] have more virtual friends, and with whom we obsessively spend copious amounts of our precious resource – time – interacting, that is, virtual interaction – than real friends with whom we allocate very little portion of our time to physically interact and get to know well. This is perhaps as a result of obsessively spending a significant chunk of our time on the virtual friends.
Moved by the eulogy, you later ask the person who gave the most emotionally touching eulogy, how long they’ve known the deceased. Oh, long time! We’ve known each other since high school or something of that sort. Or he/she was my colleague, neighbour. They admit with sorrowed affection.
You ask whether they’ve ever told the deceased all the wonderful things said/read in the eulogy? Shockingly, they say, no. Some say, possibly out of embarrassment and therefore in their defence, they never really thought about it that way before. But they feel relieved they did! Yes, they feel relieved to have said/read and expressed their feelings about the deceased, spoke all those wonderful things about the deceased in the most moving eulogy but non of which they ever actually took time to tell or thought about telling the deceased before their death.
Wait! You pause and ask yourself, internally and quietly, of course, you’ve known each other, you’ve known the deceased, of whom you spoke so eloquently in such an emotionally moving and poetic eulogy, but never actually told them how you feel about them? Never told them all those things you said about them in that moving eulogy?
So, the question becomes: what purpose do [such] eulogies [seek to] serve?
If you couldn’t speak to the deceased and have never told them how you feel about them, the sort of things expressed in eulogies, why do you have [feel the need] to do so in a eulogy? To simply relieve your emotions and make yourself feel good?
Could it possibly be that such eulogies are used as emotional therapeutic moments for those feeling guilty for having taken the deceased for granted in life? Of what use or practical purpose do eulogies serve to the deceased? If such eulogies are of no use or serve no practical purpose primarily to the deceased; aren’t we allowing ourselves to be entertained to the most opportunistic form of human hypocrisy?
We must learn to be honest to each other, speak honestly to each other, learn not only to appreciate and be grateful to each other but also, importantly, express appreciation, gratitude to each other. We mustn’t wait until death has struck, to remember to express how wonderful the deceased has been [was] to us. What a wonderful, kind, generous and a whole slew of overly sugarcoated words common in, but also only rare to, death eulogies.
Frankly, it is of no use to the deceased to be spoken of in the most glowing eulogy while those who make such eulogies, never expressed gratitude or their feelings to the deceased while alive. Or even worse, and this is possible – it can’t be ruled out – said terrible things, harsh words about or, indeed, ever conspired against or to cause harm to the deceased while alive. Except and only if such eulogies serve as the only chance for – only moment of – atonement, so that the atoned can happily move on in life; they really serve no use or practical purpose to the deceased.
Finally, I believe, the best way, or if you will, eulogy, is to always express our gratitude to those who deserve it. To let them know how privileged we feel about them and their purpose to us/in our lives while they are still with us or we are still around with them. Even where and when gratitude is not candidly expressed immediately, we must remember to reflect back on the experience others bring/give us, and take time to go back to them and express our sincere gratitude, let them know and feel what they mean to us.
However, to do this, requires the ability and humility on our part to appreciate people’s worth, without judgement. The ability and humility not to think and thus take ourselves so highly, clever, manipulative and think, if not lie to ourselves, that if and when someone is good to us, it’s because of how clever, manipulative we are; and not their generosity.