I recently came across an NPR article entitled “Always Go To The Funeral,” and I immediately recognized that as something my grandmother taught me as well (my grandmother also translates this as “always go to the mass”– I can clearly remember my grandmother saying “everyone always goes to the party, but no one ever goes to the mass!”).
I lived with my grandmother in Guatemala for a few years growing up, and during these years there was a bus-mate that passed away from a pretty bizarre car accident. The girl was in junior high, maybe 8th grade, and I was probably in third grade. We’d never really talked, but we took the same bus to school and home every day. To be honest, I didn’t like her much–not only was she way older and intimidating (as I write this I can’t believe she was only in 8th grade, in my third grade mind she was always at least 17 or 18), she was a little stuck up.
When she passed away, my grandmother made me go to the funeral, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I had to go to the wake of someone I barely knew or liked. As I got older, I started seeing the importance of it.
A friend of mine lost her father a few years ago, and I made it a point to go to his wake. I still remember how thankful she was for that, and how not difficult it was for me to be there. At that moment I was thankful to my grandmother for instilling that value in me. It’s so easy to avoid things because they’re not convenient for us, but we should remember that sometimes it’s not about us at all.