Funerals are a symphony celebrating a person lost to us – Let's please leave politics at the door

In the same month in which Sen. John McCain and Aretha Franklin passed away, my mother also died.

My heart has ached for the family and friends of those legends in a personal way, as my brothers and I arranged for our own mother’s funeral and began the process of making sense of all the items that make up a life, categorizing them, distributing them, selling them, mourning over them and reflecting on the life of a legend in my own family.

It’s the stories of a life that make such horrific moments bearable, I think, as you laugh through the tears of the moment.

Which makes it rather shocking in my view that so many took time from the funerals of great Americans this week to make partisan political points.

There is a lack of courtesy and self-awareness on the parts of too many of the privileged who think that their politics are worthy of the time of the rest of us, no matter the setting.

Standing next to my own mother’s coffin, friends and family reflected on the life of a woman who stood by the side of her husband of 56 years, raised 6 children, taught school and exhibited the character of a life well lived.

I doubt that the politics of all in the room were the same, nor did anyone care.

But more than kneeling at football games, venting at narcissistic awards shows, or decking yourself in jewelry that makes a political point, the hijacking of a memorial service for personal political diatribes seemed a jarring note that rang false in what should have been a beautiful symphony celebrating a person lost to us. 

Much has been written about the disconnect between the ruling class, the elites, who attend Kennedy Center events or walk the red carpets or earn million dollar contracts for playing a game and the rest of America in flyover country. Perhaps that can be traced in part to a seeming lack of gratefulness on the parts of those blessed with opportunity and a platform to use their bully pulpits to tear down rather than uplift; perhaps it can be traced to a lack of the kind of good manners my own parents and grandparents would have insisted of me.

There is a lack of courtesy and self-awareness on the parts of too many of the privileged who think that their politics are worthy of the time of the rest of us, no matter the setting.

Anyone who has taken the time to attend a funeral usually is there out of love … for the person lost and for those who remain and mourn. If there is any place to leave your politics as the door, it’s a memorial service.

Ecclesiastes 3 observes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to mourn and a time to dance … a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Too many people who are privileged to make their livings on some kind of stage, political or otherwise, feel that their views, their words, their politics or their pique should be center stage, in every event, whether about them or not. Too many think that every time is a time to speak for them.

But it’s not.

All politics aside, my mother and these two great Americans are beyond the petty stuff of Earth, so I pray for those left behind, that they are surrounded by people who also miss those gone on and can laugh at the stories.

At times like these, it’s the love we had for those we lost, not who won an election, that should be front and center. Rest in Peace.

Kristi Stone Hamrick is a media consultant. Follow her on Twitter@KristiSHamrick.