Departed should be memorialized

To the Editor,

Probably because I’m growing older, I regularly check out the obituaries. They are among the first things I read in the newspaper. I want to be sure that I don’t miss the passing of friends or acquaintances and fail to offer sympathy and prayers. Perhaps my interest has grown since my own near-death experience a while back.

I admit to skim reading the obituaries of total strangers just out of curiosity. Not long ago I read one of a younger married man with children who led an active life as a Scout leader, sports coach, and member of several social organizations. Then, wham, it went on to say that in order to honor his wishes there would be no viewing or services. This lack of memorializing the departed seems sadly to becoming a trend.

I have recently lost a number of relatives, friends and acquaintances. Several chose no visitation, some restricted the services to a limited few and others just had no services. I was really affected when a young cousin died in mid-March after a brief struggle with cancer. She directed her family to discourage most relatives from attending the viewing or funeral service. Her stated reasoning was that she didn’t want us to risk traveling in bad weather. Most of us do live several hundred miles away and don’t see each other regularly, but we all planned to attend. She also said that she wanted us to remember her as we last saw her while she was still her lovely and bubbly self.

As a tragic postlude, her brother was diagnosed with cancer immediately following her passing and he just passed away. He had disagreed with his sister’s wishes, but sadly his wife discouraged attendance at his service. This left many of us saddened and confused because this deprived us again of coming together and comforting each other while offering condolences to the immediate families.

Over time, I have heard most of the reasons given for these actions and they seem reasonable. But a lot of the issues mentioned can be resolved by keeping the casket closed or just having a memorial. If expenses are a concern, don’t have a meal following the services. These decisions are often hurtful to many and I feel certain this is not intentional.

My point in writing this is to ask everyone thinking about their own after-death wishes to be considerate of those who know and love you. Help us to comfort each other and say goodbye for one last time. Allow me to visit the religious aspects of this, too. Your faithful friends and relatives have prayed for you, and will do so whether you want it or not. It’s what we do. But it is also meaningful to us if we can come together in common prayer. My plea is that you let us do so in loving memory of you.

Dale A. Biesecker