No one really likes funerals, because no one likes what they represent – death. A bit of a morbid subject indeed, but we had our Nanny’s funeral earlier this week so I have been reflecting on these things a little more lately. There are so many things that death exposes and stuff we learn about ourselves and others that we might never have been known before.
Nanny’s funeral was beautiful; sad, but also joyful and comforting. We heard stories about Nanny that we’d never heard, learnt things about the family we’d never known. We cried, we remembered, and we certainly laughed. One thing that particularly stuck in my mind from one of the speeches was that Nanny was a very contented person, never one to complain of not having enough, or fussy about having the latest and greatest, the biggest and best. On reflection this was clearly evident in her life. I think it was definitely part of her beautiful character, and also a product of her generation and upbringing. Most people have no idea what hardship is like… those, like Nanny, who went through the great depression know exactly what it’s like – it shaped their life and taught them to be frugal, wise and not wanting, but appreciative of the basic things in life. This is something we really have no concept of in today’s western culture of ‘never enough’.
“You can’t take it with you…”
We learn so much from death… Too much really to talk about here. But one thing is always glaringly obvious when death confronts us… We’ve all heard it before but it never seems to sink into our shallow and greedy hearts – You can’t take it with you!
Not that Nanny really had that much to take. Nanny was a generous woman, very giving of herself and her things, because I think she had learnt to value the things that really matter. She was never rich, quite the opposite for most of her life, but I’m sure she was content – this is a beautiful thing, and I personally find it so challenging to be like this. Without ever being rich in the worldy sense of rich, Nanny left our family a rich inheritance and a heritage that currently stretches across three generations.
So I’m once again challenged to be more content and not hold too tightly to the material things of this world. But more than contentment and generosity, I think above all death reminds us of our own mortality. I’m reminded of one of the readings at the funeral which makes me think – what do people do with death that don’t have this hope.