Thursday, February 17, 2011

Funeral Reunions Vs. Family Reunions

By Christine Clark

This post is in memory of Deborah Elizabeth Douglas
July 21, 1971 - January 21, 2011

Would you attend _______________’s (fill in the blank) funeral? If it has been a while since you have seen that person and you answer yes, then ask yourself why you have not seen or made plans to see that family member while they are still alive.
Too often, family reunions take place at funerals. People gather from all corners of America when only days or weeks previous to the death of their loved one, such a trip could not be made because of work, family, financial, or other obligations. All those reasons fade and have little-to-no importance when we receive notice that someone we love is no longer alive. Time is taken from work, arrangements are made to care for family members, the money is found somewhere, travel plans are completed. Death, then, creates a sense of urgency.
Why doesn’t life create that same urgency?
In July, my ex-husband’s family will have a reunion. I have known his extended family since 1985 and although our marriage ended, I maintain close relationships with several members of his family. I am invited to that reunion. At first, I blanched! I won’t go, I decided. He has remarried and awkward does not begin to describe how such an event might make several people feel. To be honest, I have not decided whether I will attend because it is his family, not mine.
However, I do have family of my own who I have not seen for far too long. Like most families, we have our issues and to say that it would be an exercise in diplomacy to put us all in one place is an understatement. If one of us died, I know those issues would be put aside and we would all gather.
Isn’t it time to put those issues aside, not just for my family, but all families? While we are all still here, there is time to heal those broken places and to reconnect in love and acceptance.
Funeral reunions focus on shared grief and loss. I want to attend more family reunions where we can focus on love and on gratitude for what we still have.

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