I went to a funeral for the husband of a friend in my book club yesterday. It was beautiful and sad, for lack of more expressive terms. But that's just what it was. I didn't know her husband at all, so I was there more for her.
I have been to five funerals. The first two were for grandparents; I was 8 at the first one and a senior in high school at the second, so my degree of understanding differed greatly between the two. The third was for my father-in-law, who died in a car accident, just after we had moved two states away and I was pregnant with Flip. Two of my sisters-in-law were also pregnant, and out of the three cousins that came from those pregnancies, the two boys bear their grandpa's name as their middle name. The fourth was for a child, a funeral I'm still not sure why I attended. They were a family who had visited our church meetings a few times, and they sat behind us, and their kids were little and fun to watch. Their little boy died under suspcious circumstances (involving a caregiver), horrible to think about - I still don't know what the outcome of the investigation was. And this was the fifth.
You can't go to a funeral without putting yourself in one of the many roles you see played in it: the widowed spouse, the daughter/son/parent/other family member of the deceased, the deceased him-/herself. Through all 5 of those I've attended, I've found that even if you don't know the deceased that well, you still react. Even if it's like this one - just watching the strong, tough matriarch of a family of 8 children, weary from dealing with 2 years of her husband's illness and watching his battle unfold, walk down the church aisle on her son's arm behind the casket with her eyes full of tears, still trying to be strong and tough.