I attended a funeral this week. I went to honour the life of someone from my congregation. I didn't know her very well, but she had made my life at church richer every time we met. Even though I was not grieving a deep loss at this particular funeral, I found myself close to tears several times during the service. I was reminded, once again, that every funeral we attend adds to the grief we carry. We bring to each funeral all of the other funerals we have attended, particularly when more than one person dies in any given year. When we lose someone we loved deeply, the grief of that loss will overlie all subsequent losses. Our load of grief gets heavier.
Attending a funeral may feel impossible when we are in deep grief, or when we are deeply in anticipatory grief. We feel as if we are attending the funeral of our loved one, and his or her death, past or imminent, consumes our attention and emotions. We may feel guilty about this. We may feel we should be putting those feelings aside for now, and grieving instead for the one whose funeral we are at. But, we are not robots. We cannot so easily compartmentalize our feelings. We cannot simply switch off our pain, our memories, and stay present to the moment we are in. We will naturally react with sadness, emptiness, despair over the loss of our beloved whenever we grieve the next death or deaths.