I went to a relative's funeral last weekend. As with any funeral, there is plenty to say on a personal level about the deceased and his legacy. I have to say that throughout the process of wake, visitation, funeral and family communion, I kept returning to thinking about how the deceased's story is told by clergy.
Seems that every funeral I've been to, the elegy is more miss than hit. I suppose you can't expect much more unless the one delivering the elegy is very, very close to the deceased. Throughout this weekend, I was struck with how the elegy becomes sermon. This was the story of the man's life, but it was the story of the man's life as a teaching, as a parable for the living to consider. This grates on me, and it does a disservice to the dead. As ritual it fails the dead too, reducing their lives to a theological lesson.
Maybe it's impractical, but when I go, I would want a Citizen Kane retelling of my life. Gather up a few stories, tell everyone who I was through these varied accounts; let the life stand as a ray of prism light, and not a single window beam.