“…as if being upset at a funeral was inappropriate.” I recently saw this in an article talking about grief and people with developmental disabilities. The article was reacting to another article in which the author recommended you not take someone to the funeral if they are going to act out, be louder than silent, or be emotionally upset. Well, of course, one is upset at a funeral. That goes for a person with a developmental disability and for the rest of humanity too. Across the spectrum of abilities, we are more like our fellow humans than we are different. We all feel deeply and we can all benefit from gathering to remember someone we loved. Since a funeral is a gathering of people who loved a person who is now dead, there will be strong emotions. It deliberately pulls together people who are hurting acutely.
Jesus went to funerals. He went to Lazarus’ service (John 11:17-44), was “deeply moved” by the tears of others. In His travels he happened to come across a funeral procession of a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11-17). “His heart went out to her…” He felt what they felt. It is recorded that He wept softly (“Jesus wept” – the sense of the word is soft private tears) with the mourners at Lazarus’ funeral. That’s what funerals allow us to do, to share one another’s feelings. In my experience when grieving, those shared tears are a means of great comfort.
Not having a funeral, or not going to a funeral, is not going to make everything feel alright! The fact is, things are not alright – whether or not you have a developmental disability! Things are not alright because an important person is no longer living! That’s the thing that’s upsetting, the funeral gives you and your community of support a time and a place to put those emotions, to share them, to seek and find comfort in comforting things: such as Truth about redemption and resurrection, in one another’s caring embrace, in silence, in music, in tears shed together, in remembering and telling stories. Sure, a person may be upset at a funeral, but, I believe, it is not the funeral that is upsetting, it is that Death has taken someone you loved. The funeral is a time and place to give and receive comfort.
How was your beloved’s funeral a benefit for you? I do hope you had some of those shared tears and some shared stories too. Blessings to you.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…. Jesus wept. John 11:25-26, 35
O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. …weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning… "Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help." You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. Psalm 30:2, 5, 10-12