Monday, June 04, 2007

Clark Adams' memorial service

Until yesterday, I'd only attended funerals or memorial services for four people I've known; three of those have been in the last three years. All were at least nominally religious or spiritual funerals, and all (except the first, which I was too young to fully understand) struck a deep emotional chord in me. They were celebrations of the lives of these people, combined with grief for the loss of their presence. I wondered if a non-religious funeral would have the same emotional content.

Yesterday, I flew up to Las Vegas for Clark Adams' memorial service. Mel Lipman of HALVASON was the officiant--he said it was about the 50th such service he had done, but was the first for someone that he had been such a close friend to. He was followed by remarks from Clark's friends Rob and Raul, who shared personal memories of Clark and what he meant to them. Clark's mother was represented by a beautiful letter that closed with "THOUGHTfully yours, Clark's mom." There were photos and video of Clark. We laughed, we shed tears, we hugged. We shared memories of Clark and we made new friends. At dinner afterward, several people gave homage to Clark by ordering Diet Cokes with no ice (even though Matt said "I hate Diet Coke" and Brandon said "and I love ice!").

The emotional content was the same--a mix of joy for the positive contributions Clark made to all of our lives and sadness that he's gone. But I found it a better experience than the religious ceremonies in this regard, in that these are people like me, that I can genuinely connect with on a deeper and more honest way, despite the fact that I don't know many of them very well. We know that Clark is gone, and that our lives here are all we have, making every moment more precious.


Eamon Knight said...

I've given (ie. arranged for and delivered the eulogy, but with a UU chaplain actually MCing the event) exactly two non-religious memorials services: for my parents. Yes: you celebrate the life of the deceased, you recall all the things you loved about them, you begin to assess their legacy to you.

As it happens, it wasn't that much different from many of the United Church funerals I went to, back in the day: they were usually billed as "A Celebration of the Life of....", and there was more talk about the person than there was about Heaven and God. So not all religious funerals are the same.

Be that as it may, my sympathies on the loss of your friend.

Jim Lippard said...

Eamon: Thanks for sharing your experience and for your sympathy.

I'm enjoying reading your blog, "Thinking for Free," as well--I'm glad you stopped by to comment.