I attended the funeral today of my uncle who died suddenly and unexpectedly from a rare, acute form of leukemia. Even on a normal day, I consider myself emotionally hypersensitive. So seeing my aunt red-eyed and hearing people’s voices start to crackle, I couldn’t stop the tears from dropping.
But there were a couple things that consoled me. Primarily, the priest’s homily was very powerful. I go to church all the time. I’ve heard a bazillion homilies. Most of them are boring. On any given Sunday, you can find me dozing off on a pew, catching some ZZZs waiting for the priest to finally shut up. But this funeral homily really moved me. The priest talked about humanity’s fear of dying and our feelings of loss when we lose someone. All of those feelings are obviously very real and painful. Then he asked us if we had faith. Now most Filipinos are Catholic. Almost all Filipinos believe in God. So when you ask us if we have faith, by golly, we Filipinos have faith!
His message was uplifting and hopeful because he asked us to draw on our faith which is rooted in the promise of Jesus Christ—that in dying we will rise again. Jesus’s resurrection put an end to death as we know it. That there is another life, a better peaceful life. That is our religion. If I didn’t believe, then there’d be a lot more tears.
Rituals, also, are very consoling. The prayers that we say together. The songs that we sing from memory. I think normally we take rituals for granted, but when we bury one of our own, they become significant.
When someone dies without warning, you start questioning if you’re taking people for granted, whether you’re spending enough time with your loved ones. When you interact with someone, might it be the last time? Losing someone is hard, but family and faith make it bearable.