I'm in DC for the funeral of my sister-in-law's mother. She was a great and wonderful woman who passed away after a long illness. She was also grandmother to my niece and nephews - I'm here mostly to be a support to them and their mom.

Funerals are such an interesting thing. I think they are a completely different experience depending on how close you are to the center of the storm of grief.

If you are in the eye of the storm (a direct loved one - wife, husband, son, daughter), then they are a swirl of emotions. You laugh, you cry, you cry some more. There's a sea of all these faces who also loved your loved one - you need to be near these other people who knew him or her.

If you are close to the eye of the storm, but not in the center, I think you are more focused on those who are caught in the eye. You laugh and you cry, but you're also a support to your loved ones who are missing their loved one.

And so on. I think you need all the different levels of grief for the whole thing to work. It's not a coincidence that our society takes the task of saying goodbye to our loved ones so seriously. It's serious stuff. It's part of what it means to be a human being.

Funerals are certainly a different experience for me since I was at the eye of the storm with my own mother four and a half years ago. I think I take them more seriously - I recognize how important they are. I used to think that if I didn't really know the person that well, I didn't need to go to the funeral. Now my feeling is more that if you're more peripheral, then it's important to be there anyway as a grounding force and support.

I've also attended a lot of wakes and funerals the past two years for our own Sisters. Some of these great women I'd gotten to know very well, others just in passing. But as a community, it is so wonderful to join together and celebrate their lives. I think I now think of the purpose of funerals as more two fold - saying goodbye and grieving yes, but also celebrating this wonderful person who lived and breathed and did amazing things.

So end my random thoughts on funerals. On that note, I should head out to pick up my Dad & sister and head to the church.

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