For the second day in a row today, I was way overdressed for my lunchtime jog. I couldn’t quite believe one layer would suffice, so I went the safe route, bundled up, and felt like a granny as lean bare legs whizzed by me in shorts, gosh darn it. I wanted to be in shorts, too. Who doesn’t want to wear shorts in February in Pennsylvania?
It reminded me of the folks in my adult school workshop last night. I couldn’t help but notice how many times their reaction to something I said was a comical combo of surprise and ‘Duh.’ As if I was telling them something new, but then it hit them — the proverbial light bulb going off — that Yeah, that’s right, I knew that.
This is what we do. We don’t trust what’s marvelous and out-of-the-ordinary. For a myriad of reasons, in all facets of life — but even more so around death and funerals — we just assume ‘Same old, same old.’ That things are written in stone. A warm February day?! A celebration of life where people are actually grateful and joyful through their tears? It’s not what we expect.
But it drove home the point to me that everyone already knows the truth of what I’m preaching here.
People don’t walk around with the common knowledge that goodbyes that can be personal, deep, honest-to-God celebratory, and unique. (Well, I do, and that’s why I’m a crusader for it. Please, jump on the bandwagon.)
But the moment the idea is presented, it does become a bit of a Duh. We do all know, deep down or hovering just below the surface, that we want our goodbyes to be meaningful. And that we’re the only ones who can know what that looks like.
Not empty, generic, and all-the-same.
And that we’re honoring this person we loved so much in a personal way. Putting our hearts and souls into it. Experiencing it and being comforted by our participation.
Playing it safe and conforming to what you believe is called for doesn’t lead to magical moments. It leads to missed opportunities, regret, and perhaps an urge to kick yourself in the keister.
Look out from the windows of your home (or your soul) and see the actual climate… that dark and somber ceremonies are out-of-season now. Don some lighter-weight clothes (and emotions) and know that joy can coexist with the sadness.
Real celebration is a liberation. See that you already know that and have better goodbyes for all!!