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About 2 months ago when I wrote of my friend, her final days with cancer, and her thoughts about that inevitability, having a diagnosis of cancer myself was the farthest thought from my mind. But 7 days after I left her home, I was in the doctors office receiving my own diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer. This would be why you haven’t heard from the Funerea blog of late.

 

Now, however, the shock has worn off, the treatment has begun, and life is still here to be lived to the fullest. And part of the way I live that life meaningfully is to help people say goodbye to their loved ones who have died. Last weekend I did this with Katie’s family (now known as Mary F. on the Funerea Facebook page).

 

Putting together a Celebration of Life for one of your dear friends is a different kind of animal. All of the same elements may be there, the speeches, the music, the slide show, the food and drink but it all has such a direct impact. Like all good goodbyes, there were tears, laughter, irreverent stories of times past, people coming together who hadn’t seen each other in ages, toasts made, food shared. 

 

Having taken the time to plan, Mary’s family was able to give her what they considered a send off fitting to who she was: a vital member of her community, the matriarch of her family, beloved mom to her son, and a friend like no other.

 

So often families rush into a ceremony to put it behind them, or worse, not having a religious community of any kind, decide to forego a ceremony at all. Coming together in community to acknowledge the importance of a person in our lives who we have lost may be one of the most important things we can do for our own healing and, dare I say, for the healing of our culture. There are no rules on how to do it, just that we do.