Another piece from This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women that made me pause and think was Deirdre Sullivan's "Always Go to the Funeral." I really do not like funerals but I do go. I go for a variety of reasons. Some I think about while others are more subconscious and only occur to me after the fact. Sullivan's father once told her, "Always go to the funeral. Do it for the family." I agree. It is for the family and for friends. It is also for each of us.
I don't believe in any sort of afterlife. My consciousness does not continue after death. I know the deceased has no idea as to whether I attend the memorial or any ability to care whether I am there or not. But I know. It is about supporting those still living who were close to person who just died. In a strange way it is also comforting to me. I do not want to cease to exist. It is inevitable. Since I can not change it I seek what comfort that can be found: other people. I go because I want to remember and hope that when my time comes others will do the same for me.
No one should feel alone. Deep down I know that in some respect we will all end alone. However, the idea of others being around and remembering me helps. I may not completely understand it but it works as well as anything can. It may not work the same way for everyone but everyone does seem to draw strength from the presence of others at such tragic moments. So if you can go, go. It's a simple yet profound gesture. Just be there.