Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost 1874-1963
Recently, a man in my community was struck with pancreatic cancer. He fought it mightily and then surrendered, knowing he was going to be taken by his disease. He chose to use his remaining time to soak up all the good things in his life and he attended his own funeral to be part of the celebration. At that event, he was able to tell everyone he loved how he felt about them and was able to hear their great stories and memories about himself. An especially poignant moment during the service was his acknowledging all the love he felt from his children, wife, and siblings. He was brimming with gratitude towards the community for their support over his long illness. According to those in attendance, it was tragic and beautiful in every way for all of those present. He taught everyone in his life to live with fierce love, humor, courage and wisdom and in the end, that seemed to be what matters. He left his funeral to the song, “Fly me to the Moon”. As of this writing, he is still with us, receiving visitors at his home with a grace and dignity that inspires everyone he sees.
Before I heard this story, I did not know attending your own funeral was possible. We can attend our own funeral (if we know our end is near) and do not need to ask permission or follow the rules. Why isn’t this more commonly practiced? It seems a mighty effective way to help us let go of the small and large indignities that chip away at us, the ankle biters, the annoyances, the rudeness and inconveniences we all meet. Could knowing we can attend our own funerals or hear our own eulogies make us feel more alive?
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 1926-2004