The majority of the time that I have seen family members over the past few years has not been under the best of circumstances. We have had 8 funerals in the past 6 years. Even though I was not able to attend every funeral, when I did, it created an interesting situation. Funerals have begun to double as mini family reunions. I have met and reunited with multiple cousins. A majority of the family stories I have heard have been while visiting for funerals.
It has allowed us to find beauty in grief and sadness. A majority of the deaths have been my great aunts and uncles. As of now, there are only two great aunts left, Diane and Sheila. My grandmother was one of 14 children that grew up in the northeast. First in suburban Connecticut and then moved to the Berkshires of Massachusetts. This last funeral that we had for my great aunt Jacqueline “Jackie” was the first time I had seen my aunt Diane since I had uncovered a major brick wall in our family history. It was amazing to see her reaction to seeing a document that had her grandfather and great-grandmother’s names on it. She said that her parents never really talked about their family’s that much. Her mother was from North Carolina and her father was from Nova Scotia. They were a large black family that grew up in 1940’s/50s rural Massachusetts. I also told her about some old documents about the drama-filled family land that she didn’t know about.
It is also a great time to see different generations interacting with each other. At Aunt Jackie’s funeral, the youngest cousins were 16 and the oldest was my grandfather and my aunt MaryAnn who we affectionately call Cookie. I also was able to see more of my generation of cousins. A lot of my generation is widely spread around the country so it is very rare for a lot of us to be together. I also got to meet a cousin I had never met before.
Funerals are a time for many things, but it is always important to appreciate the streaks of sunshine in the darkness. Yes, you are not coming together under the best circumstances, but you’re together with family. Take a moment to appreciate that.