We all have differing values and morals in life. Working as a Funeral Celebrant I see this in motion, at times when people are in the most pain and therefore holding up less of a guard. In this kind of environment, stereotypes are often broken as people from all walks of life must enter the chapel.
This situation of values and morals was no more evident to me than during a week of back to back Funerals and memorial services, that I performed. During this week, I met three families, all from diverse backgrounds. One had a father who had passed away in a far off town and the children couldn’t get to him for the funeral, so they held a memorial service for him. The next was a family who lost a middle-aged daughter to the complications of diabetes. The third was a club of Bikies, who lost a brother in arms to a brain tumour.
Of the three services I did that week, who would you think showed the most respect to their fallen loved one? The children with the memorial, the family with the diabetic daughter, or the Bikies with their brother in arms?
Most people would point a finger and say ‘the children didn’t even get up to say goodbye to their Dad, they must have been rude and hard to deal with’, or they may think the Bikies are often organised crime people, so they would have been drunk or on illicit drugs. Well, would it surprise you to know that in fact the Bikie funeral was the biggest of the three services and it was the one that was treated with the most respect? All the people there were dressed in their finery and they were all sombre and respectful of the staff conducting the service, including me and to their lost brother. By contrast, the family who lost their daughter to diabetes were rude and loud. With people in the back row of the chapel calling out and disrupting the service. Many of them arrived in the clothes they slept in, with stains and crinkles on their shirts.
The memorial service, was a quiet affair, with the adult children dressed appropriately and the mood was of laughter and tears, as a good memorial or funeral should be.
That week in my life, showed me that you cannot ever judge a book by its cover. Bikies get a lot of bad press, but when it comes to the rites of passage in life and in death, they uphold the highest of morals and values. Children who cannot make it to their Father’s graveside, still love their Father and choose to remember him well, but families who never held much respect for themselves and their own will always show that side to themselves when the time comes to say goodbye.
Funerals are about the living, in as much as, the living are the ones left behind. They are about honouring the life well lived and the person who was living that life. They are a time to remember yourself and keep your values and morals in check. Many family arguments erupt around the time of the passing of a loved one. Should you find yourself involved in this situation, ask yourself, would my deceased loved one want this to be happening?
We all must face this passage, be it to farewell another or to be farewelled, how you conduct yourself is not about your socio-economic status, your religion or your culture, it is about your personal values and your morals, inside of you. And believe me; they will be on display for all to see.