Funerals are hard! There's no doubt about it. I attended two last week: Terry Minkins and Curtis "Bird" Walker. Both were co-workers whose big, happy smiles are going to be missed tremendously. It was a terrible loss for our company and the many, many friends and family whose lives they touched. I am so glad I followed through with the idea I had.
For our company Christmas party, it was no surprise that I brought my camera and snapped pictures the whole time. These two images have become my favorites from that day:
Curtis "Bird" Walker
The night before Terry's service, I decided to have some 4x6 prints made of both Terry and Bird so I could hand them out with paychecks on Friday. I though it would be nice for their co-workers to have a physical memory of them. In this digital world, we take a lot of pictures, but those images stay trapped in our phone and although we can go back and view them, it's not the same as holding an image in your hand or putting a framed one on your desk. In my opinion, that needs to change!
I ordered 25 prints of each... then changed it to 50 and decided to hand out any extras at their service. I ended up bringing all 50 prints to Terry's service and laid them by the guest sign-in book. It is a HUGE understatement to say those 33 cent pieces of paper brought tremendous comfort, warmth and sentiment to that service! The picture got 2 reactions. Most men would pick it up, study it for a minute, then slide it in their jacket pocket. Most women would pick it up, hold it to their heart, then show it to the person beside them and they would chat about how he was always smiling or they would share a story about him. A few even kissed the picture and shed a tear. The only regret I have is not printing more. Those 50 went fast and there was such disappointment when someone would come to get one and find they were all gone. I went home and ordered 100 more of Bird and brought all 150 to his service. As I was leaving, I saw a family member pick up the last 10 or so and slide them into her Bible.
As I left Bird's service, I thought about how 200 prints of those two great men were going to be spread out across family and friends. I wondered how many of Terry and Bird's co-workers, friends, cousins, uncles, neighbors, etc. didn't own a printed picture of them (until now). I wondered how many times Terry and Bird would be thought of, their stories shared, and their memory relived because of those pictures. It was a small, inexpensive gesture with huge, invaluable dividends.
I challenge you to make the same gesture at the next funeral service you go to. Find your favorite picture or get one from someone else, make 150 (or more) printed copies and lay them where the guests sign-in. Step back and watch as that simple piece of paper turns into a cherished gift that will be treasured for years to come.
I never ask anyone to share my blog but I'm going to ask you to share this one. This gesture needs to go viral. The next funeral service I go to (which I hope is a long, long, long time from now), I hope to see piles of pictures like an old fashioned cookie swap. What a sweet way to honor someone who will be truly missed and never forgotten.