I went to a funeral today. It was for a man who had lived a long life, a full life, and who was loved by a lot of people. He was nearly blind and nearly deaf, but his faculties were all intact. When he became ill a couple of weeks ago, he decided that he had been here long enough. In the hospital he removed his IV as well as other life support and told his loved ones that he was ready to go.
When someone dies in Iceland, one of the two main dailies – Morgunblaðið – publishes obituaries about that person on the day of the funeral, free of charge. Anyone can send in an article about the deceased person, and it will be published. It’s a long-standing tradition that has often been dismissed as sappy or one-sided, as these obituaries tend to highlight only the good things and leave out the bad. Personally I hope this tradition never dies. It is one of the hallmarks of this society that each and every person is important, each and every person has done something in their lives that is worth remembering and honouring. Sure, everyone has also done things that are not stellar. But when a person passes, I think it’s OK to focus on the good. That’s my personal view.
Reading the obituaries this morning for the man who was being buried today, I had a sense that every word that was written about him was true. He was a good man with honourable qualities – solid, loyal, strong, unselfish. I know, because he once did something for me that I will never forget – a good turn that he tried to do without being found out, but I did find out.
I thought about life today and how valuable it is to be able to end it like he did – having said goodbye to your nearest and dearest and, perhaps most importantly, knowing that you are at peace with yourself and your loved ones. That there is no unfinished business, nothing nibbling away at the soul, just harmony and a sense that all is well.
At the funeral and afterwards, I also got to spend time with my family. And when I got home I thought about how incredibly hung up I used to be on the fact that my family wasn’t perfect, and my conviction that if only they would change to conform to my ideas of how they should be, all would be well. And I thought about how arrogant this was of me, and how unbelievably self-defeating. And how incredibly grateful I am that today, by some grace that was given to me, I’m able to accept and love them just as they are. And feel at peace and enjoy the things they are able to give, unconditionally and with gratitude.
I guess this must be what life is about. Learning to accept, letting go of one’s ego. Ane hopefully ending it with the peace and harmony I saw modelled in the man that was buried today.
It’s too late for weather. Tomorrow.