Always attend Funerals

[May 27, 2022]  My brother and I stood there, looking at the casket of our great-grandfather.  This was the first funeral we ever attended.  Neither of us wanted to be there.  My father made it clear, “You’re going to the funeral, do it for the family.”  I couldn’t talk, my brother cried, we were both in shock from looking at the faces of our relatives and strangers.  Years later, people would remember the two little boys there and note that we were the only two children present.  We were learning a life lesson; do the right thing even when you don’t want to do it.

Even when you don’t want to, or it is unpopular, doing the right thing is at the epicenter of maturity and respect.

Going to a funeral may not mean much to you, but it means a lot to someone else.  Is it inconvenient?  Yes.  Is attending a funeral awkward and uncomfortable?  Yes.  There is nothing heroic or courageous in attending a funeral, but it is something I do.  Being among the deceased person’s relatives at the funeral home or church is difficult.

Because of my job in the military, I also attended many funerals and memorial services, hundreds of them.  That was the sad part of my job, but I went, not because of an obligation or career requirement but because it was right.  I looked into the eyes of the family survivors and said good things about the person who passed away.  I learned that lesson early.  You may not want to be there, but I can assure you, no one does.

I’ve had many parents, spouses, and a variety of relatives and friends of the deceased express their appreciation that I took the time to be there with them.  Going to a funeral of someone you know or the relative of someone you know sends a message that you respect the deceased or appreciate their family.  You can never fully get used to going to a funeral.  The emotions are always there, often tears on the sleeve and handkerchiefs.  It’s tough.

Many years ago, when I was deployed at the beginning of the Iraq War, it was a time of great difficulty.  It was the first time good friends had been killed in combat.  One morning the four of them were there, and we talked and laughed; a few hours later, they were all dead in a helicopter shoot-down.  Eleven Soldiers died in that encounter, four I knew well.

Those present at funerals or memorials honor those who have died, regardless of the cause of death or inconvenience of attendance.  I didn’t understand as a young kid what it meant to attend a funeral.  Now I know.

Yes, I will always go to the funeral.

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Please purchase my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Always attend Funerals

  1. Wild Bill

    Sometimes Gen. Satterfield, you come out of the blue with something I think is off the wall – at least initially and that is what I thought about this article here. Why in the world would I want to go to a funeral. There seems to be no upside to doing so. Of course, there is a reason to go. And, it’s not just to respect the dead. it’s also to support the living.

    Reply
    1. Wilson Cox

      Got that right Wild Bill. Attend funerals. Likewise go to weddings. These are a microcosm of human behavior and you show that you care about those there.

      Reply
  2. Martin Shiell

    Gen. Satterfield, I agree wholeheartedly with you!!!!

    Reply
  3. catorenasci

    You should always attend the funeral. When a friend, loved one, acquaintance, co-worker, or neighbor dies, you should always attend the funeral. Not only is it respectful of the dead and shows support for the family, but it also serves as a reminder to you that you are not immortal.

    Reply
    1. Doug Smith

      Simple but very true. I know it takes a tiny bit of courage to attend the funeral, do it anyway.

      Reply
      1. Winston

        “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

        Reply
      2. General Bernard

        Right Doug and you will learn to appreciate that humans are both strong and fragile.

        Reply
  4. Audrey

    We should live with an extreme awareness that our lives are temporary and our time is finite.

    Reply
  5. Erleldech

    On a regular basis I stand before a grieving family, beside a casket, and speak about life and death. As I do, I’m always reminded I could be just 72 hours away from either sitting on the front row or lying in the casket. We are all going to die. It’s a truth we know, but one we rarely realize. We live in denial of our mortality, in part, as a defense mechanism. 👍

    Reply
  6. Greg Heyman

    I would never have thought of it this way ….. always attend funerals.

    Reply
  7. Sadako Red

    Gen. Satterfield is giving us some rather important advice. Attending funerals is all that he says and much much more. That is why I also advise young people to pay close attention to the “big” things in people’s lives ( if you want to be a leader). Those big things you must acknowledge, it shows them that you care.

    Reply
  8. Yusaf from Texas

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for another spot-on article. Great advice. I would also add, “always attend weddings.” Hope that helps.

    Reply
    1. Greg NH

      Right, attending weddings. A lot more people to meet and you get to booze it up and dance a lot.

      Reply
    2. Bryan Z. Lee

      Yep! … and what we should all be paying close attention to is that when we are unaware of our mortality, we lose the context of our lives. Issues which lack importance can seem important. Actions and activities which should be the most important in our lives can be seen as insignificant.

      Reply
  9. Pumpkin Spice

    I don’t fully agree because we should also be with those who are living, not wait until they are dead. But, I know Gen. Satterfield acknowledges that too (as seen in earlier posts). Great job, once again, Gen. S. for a great article. 👍👍👍👍👍

    Reply
    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Hey, Pumpkin Spice, did you notice yesterday’s article by “Jelly?” He is on top of stuff in the FBI that makes me wonder. Anyway, it goes to show that Gen. Satterfield gives us a variety of articles to think about. The operative word here is “think”. Too many folks today have zero thinking and it shows dramatically.

      Reply
      1. Oakie from OK

        Right, Nick, when you don’t think – “use your brains” my mom would say – then bad things happen. Then when you don’t think, you whine. Lots of cowardly whiners out there.

        Reply
        1. Laughing Monkey

          No one is paying attention to this advice anymore.

          Reply
      2. Lynn Pitts

        Yeah, the whole article on the FBI is scary. I surely don’t trust any of them. Imagine how far down the FBI has fallen. US citizens no longer have confidence and trust in the FBI, our lead organization for law enforcement. What have we come to?

        Reply

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