As we planned his memorial service and arranged for friends and family from far and near to celebrate his life with us, I came to appreciate several aspects of our American-funeral-tradition.
First, funerals bring loved ones together. Why do we wait for a death to see cousins, aunts and uncles? We shouldn't, because these ties reinforce us when the winds-of-life bend us.
Second, a memorial service is motivational. Reviewing my father-in-law's life spurred the rest of us on to copy his work-ethic, his love for the Bible, and his life investment in mentoring others.
And last, Christian funeral services comfort our hearts as we are reassured that heaven awaits those who have accepted Christ's gift of forgiveness.
In this vein, the poem by Emily Dickinson "The Bustle in a House" is memorable, because it captures the finality of death on earth, but the hope of reunion in eternity.
The Bustle in a House
The bustle in a house
the morning after death
is solemnest of industries
enacted upon earth.
The sweeping up the heart
and putting love away
we shall not want to use again