Waking Joy at a Wake
The wake today was an experience unlike any other. Of course they all are; every moment is, because this moment has never happened before. Yet old mind habitual response can make things seem the same. Today, approaching the closed casket, and looking into the bright, sparking, and kind eyes in the photo of my deceased friend, for a moment joy began to arise, then I watched as it was quickly shut-down by a thought like, “yeah but you can’t feel that, that’s not her, she’s not here,” and I felt a familiar old suffering mind try to rise.
The impulse was to look away and move away, however I stayed; stayed looking into those eyes a minute longer and then a grin broke-out to match her trademark playful one that could be seen in the photo. And that was both the start and the end of suffering at that event. I chatted with the daughter, grandson, and great-grandson. Sometimes about her, more often about other things. I noted and appreciated that same humour, passed-down through the generations.
Later-on a priest came to hold a prayer that began, “In this time of sorrow…” and a smile grew upwards as pleasant chills went downwards. All kinds of great thoughts came, like “This is not a time of sorrow!” “It is a time of love, and celebration of a divine life.” I felt powerful connection as I stood in the circle, containing my smile from an all-out grin, yet enjoying and sharing my joy.
I am conscious of the power of words over people who think words can hurt them, and hear all the statements that carry energy draining, dis-empowering assumptions (or worse, embedded commands), like that one, built into our society. If you had not been feeling sorrow, you could well be doing so now. I have carefully crafted my response for funerals to something like “I know you will find the strength to see you through this.” That expresses empathy while empowering people, it maybe even uplifts.
Tonight the room was not a sad one, people were slightly more on the celebratory side. Of course we never know what will happen until it happens, and that state was what I “put-out” or held view of people to be. For my friend and the way she lived her life, it was quite appropriate. We’ll see what the funeral holds tomorrow.