Funerals and memorial services are for the living. I understand that now.
The ritual gives survivors and loved ones comfort, and closure, if that’s ever possible. Sometimes it takes years to move on after the death of a loved one. And if there isn’t a sense of closure, then you can’t feel at peace; the sorrow will gnaw at you, make your feel guilty, perhaps, fill you with regret at words left unsaid, deeds undone.
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is a beautiful service at my parish that I started paying attention to — and attending — after I found Emmett Wilson four years ago. Back then, November 2013, I was caught up in picking apart Emmett’s last days on Earth, and his funeral. I’d only recently discovered not only did we share an alcoholic kinship, but also we were cousins.
Even though he lived and died almost 100 years ago, I felt (and still feel) connected, and a healthy need to honor and acknowledge his life and his struggles, and to give myself some kind of emotional closure, which is nice, considering I never attended Emmett’s funeral.
I included Emmett’s name in our parish’s program, which first lists the names of our parish’s deceased in the past year, then lists the names of our beloved whom we wish to remember during the service.
My dear friend Nancy didn’t have a funeral. She didn’t want one. But her family and loved ones will gather sometime over the next few months to honor her memory, in a way she’d appreciate — her cousin is establishing a garden in her honor.
Meanwhile, attending this service was comforting. It was beautiful; Gabriel Faure’s Requiem was sung in Latin.
The entire Requiem is beautiful, but the best part is In paradisum, which is moving and poignant, and where I like to think Nancy and Emmett are at this moment. You can hear it at this link, if you haven’t experienced it before. It’s worth it.
May the choir of angels receive thee, and with Lazarus, once a beggar, mayest thou have eternal rest.