My Aunt and I have this funny little habit after every funeral. After the family leaves and the doors are closed and lights are off, we ask each other, was the family happy?
It never occurred to me that this was a funny question. Did the family think their loved one looked good? Were they satisfied with our services? Did the funeral run smooth? All of these questions and more are all rolled up into that question; was the family happy?
It only occurred to me that this was a funny question, after one of our last funerals. The family was anything but happy. Their loved one passed away suddenly, leaving behind a young family with questions unanswered and a life turned upside down. After the graveside service, the widow came over to me and hugged me, thanking me for everything that we did for her. With tears in her eyes and a daughter that could barely leave her father’s grave, they walked away holding each other up, being each other’s support.
Certain funerals are harder for me than others. This was one of them. This funeral was hard because I could relate to it. I could put myself in the daughter’s shoes, and that’s scary. Back at the funeral home I met my Aunt who was busy tidying things up. She looked at me when I came in with a smile on her face and asked the normal question. “How did the funeral go? Was the family happy?”
Everything went perfect. The deceased looked natural and peaceful in the casket. The graveside service was beautiful. It was a good funeral by our standards. But with the memory of the widow and her daughter walking away still rolling in my mind, I questioned whether that family would ever be truly happy again.
I looked at my Aunt, smiled thinking of the irony of the question and told her that yes, the family was happy.