I went to a funeral this week. The man was in his 70s. His cancer had progressed significantly in these last six months and so he died. Exited gracefully, his family said. He was surrounded by his loved ones and until his dying day, was still laughing with his wife. His wife of 57 years. I didn’t know the man; I knew his daughter.

I’m always confused at funerals, conflicted. You’re always told to celebrate the life of the recently departed, but then you’re sad too. I always take comfort in knowing that my loved one won’t suffer from pain of illness, etc., and that’s probably the case with most people who lose loved ones.

The victims of violent crime and accidents, their families probably have a bit of a different experience because the death was so preventable. Their sadness is intertwined with shock. But still, the lives of those people are celebrated and in some cases become a cause, Trayvon Martin for example, to reference current events. The whole Mothers Against Drunk Driving movement, another example.

At my friend’s father’s funeral, her sister-in-law read a poem. I had never heard this poem before, maybe you have. It’s nice and I wanted to share it with you.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end

He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1900 – 1970)

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider whats true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?



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