Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Go to the Funeral: Do the Right Thing Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

I went to a funeral service today. The sister of one of Eric’s best friends passed, and it was one of those things that was fell in the gray area: not totally obligatory, but would be appreciated. After assessing everything I had to do this week, and realizing how far behind I already am, I was really tempted to tell Eric to be my emissary … to say a prayer for the family from my own home.

But then I thought about Deirder Sullivan’s piece in the collection of NPR’s “This I Believe” essays. She writes:

I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that…. “Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The shiva call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing. 


In going to the funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable, occasional calamity.

Doing good versus doing nothing. Yep. That’s where so much of the battle lies, especially when dealing with a mood disorder and/or chronic illness. It is so tempting to give into the excuses instead of pushing through to the other side, to surrender to the stress and fatigue instead of taking another step toward healing, forgiveness, or health.


So I take it a day at a time, and for the 24 hours ahead of me, I try to do the right thing, the sometimes-inconvenient task, like taking a few hours out of a hectic day to go to a funeral, to a show a friend that he is not alone in his grief, and to remind myself of the insignificance of so many of my worries and expectations.

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  • Marilyn

    It is those things that get me through life when i can make myself do thing that could be gotten out of with excuses but in the end i have someone else feel better as well as feeling good about myself.acomplishments.

  • Sonya A

    I missed my Aunts funeral today, not because I wanted too. But then God reminded me we said our private Goodbyes.

  • Kelly S.

    My dad was a high school guidance counselor for over thirty years, so there were many times that he went to funeral homes and hospitals for students, former students, and their relatives. I once asked him why he did that because it didn’t sound like fun. He said there are plenty of things in life that we should do in life not because they are fun, but because they are the right thing to do.
    His own funeral, at the age of 55, had a full church and the visiting hours both days had to be extended so all those paying their respects could pass through. I feel pretty strongly that the people who were there weren’t there because it was fun for them either, but for me and my family, we are thankful that they did what they felt was right. It meant the world to us.
    As a teacher myself, I have been to funeral homes with students and, sadly, for students. I will never forget the student who ran up to me during calling hours for her dad. She hugged me and whispered, “I didn’t think anybody from school would come.” She then proudly introduced me to her family. That was a humbling experience for me.
    Kelly in Ohio

  • Steve

    I agree. Sometimes it is hard to want to go to a viewing or service when you hardly know the person. But, if you have ever had someone close to you pass, it is nice to see how many people show up. This is a good indication of how many lives were touched by the person close to you.

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