“I Want to Burden My Loved Ones”

In a short essay, Gilbert Meilaender reflected on attending a workshop on “advance directives” at a nearby hospital. Throughout the workshop, participants expressed their intent not to be a burden on their family members at the end of life. But the more Meilaender thought about this, the more he determined that this was not his view. He reflected, “I don’t know how to make the point other than too crassly–other than by saying that I want to be a burden to my loved ones.”

He then goes on to discuss the various ways he cared for his children that “burdened” him but that he certainly does not resent – teaching sports, playing games, attending recitals, volunteering at school, negotiating dinner choices. While he does not begrudge these things, he does ask, “Is this not in large measure what it means to belong to a family: to burden each other–and to find, almost miraculously that others are willing, even happy to carry such burdens?”

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A State Funeral as Civic Education

Winston Churchill died on this date in 1965, and for the first time I watched video footage from his funeral.

I was fascinated to learn that preparations for his eventual funeral began 12 years before his death and had a code name. The planning was initiated after Churchill suffered a serious stroke.

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The Merit of Hidden Ritual

In the book, Not Cancelled: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19, there’s a chapter containing a short personal reflection entitled, “Mourning is Not Cancelled.” One of 49 stories of creativity and resilience, this one begins, “Today I attended a funeral. And I was heartbroken I wasn’t there.”

Contributor Catherine Kenwell recounts watching the livestreamed funeral of her best friend’s mother.

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For the Sake of the Mourners

Recently, I visited the Holy Cross Cemetery with Mark Neugebauer. As a deacon for the Archdiocese of Toronto, he has become involved in the service of burying the dead.

While he never expected this to become a key part of his ministry, he was asked one day by a priest to do a committal and he agreed. From there he started doing them occasionally which led him to realize that he really enjoyed it. He asked if he could assist more and was told that a deacon had just died and, in fact, they needed him. Now, he currently does an average of 3 or 4 interments every Monday.

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