Don't wear black to my funeral

I attended a funeral yesterday and like all funerals, it got me thinking about my own mortality. A couple  thoughts:

1) Don't wear black to my funeral: I get why people wear black to funerals. I get the whole mourning and sadness thing. And I think I understand the particular tragedy of an unexpected death. Wearing black is a cultural expression of grief.

But I don't get why we as Christians have to do what everyone else does. After all, we have a different view of death. If we truly believe there is life after death and that death is not the end, then why would we mourn when someone dies? It is a good-bye celebration. The rest of the culture mourns but as believers, we celebrate.

If someone is going to remember my life, I want it to be a real celebration. If Jesus is the resurrection and I'm in a better place, then we should party. I want to look down from heaven and see people wearing lime green, fuschia, bright orange, and yellow. I would love to hear some good jokes and people laughing, and definitely some 80's music from like UB40 and Depeche Mode. It is probably not appropriate to have dancing but I wouldn't object either.

2) Feel free to cry loudly: In the Ancient Near East, apparently people were hired to be professional wailers. They were paid to cry loudly during the funeral procession. It was to get the emotion going, to inject life into the festival of grief. I think its good to experience the full range of emotions so if people don't feel like celebrating, they don't have to. I'll let Judy decide if she thinks we need to hire some pros to get my party going. And if you're going to cry, you should really wail. Just get into it. I definitely feel the same way about singing to God. If you're going to sing, go all in - raise your hands and really blast it. If you're going to be sad, then straight up bawl. This seems counter-cultural as well so let's go with it.

In the Ancient Near East, it was also a customary part of the mourning process to tear one's clothes and put on a sackcloth, as Jacob did when he thought his son Joseph had been killed. In Genesis 38, it even appears widows had a permanent outfit to symbolize their loss. As Christians, we have the freedom to express our grief in diverse ways. Certainly, most Asians are uncomfortable with sadness. I've heard so many Asian parents tell their kids to stop crying. Kids' tears seem to upset parents more than they do the kids' themselves. I've heard friends and family comment that so and so is doing well after their close relative's death because they don't look sad - "She is so strong during this time, not crying at all".

Being a Christian means the freedom to acknowledge weakness and grief so let's not bound our expression by cultural protocol.

3) Let me go: This one has more to do with dying than death. Christians tend to make a big deal out of prolonging duration of life for as long as possible. We want a loved one to continue breathing and having bodily function even though it means more pain and suffering for all involved. I wonder if that's biblical.  John 10:10 says that God came to give us life to the full. That means He wants us to experience a certain quality of life not just a certain quantity of life.

My brother is a doctor and he has no doubts about how he wants to go. Pull the plug. I don't know the term but if its unlikely I will ever make a recovery and be able to perform basic life functions like eat on my own or talk, then let me go.  It is torturous for both patient and the family to allow someone to continue to suffer when they have no chance for recovery. This may not seem like a Christian position but given my brother's position and what I've read here and here, I'm fairly convinced that if my life has no abundance and I'm not making any impact through my existence then I would be delighted to see Jesus sooner than later.


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