I give credit to this title to Deirdre Sullivan, who offered this powerful essay in the book “This I Believe,” which I highly recommend. She tells the story about how her father had once told her she had to go to a funeral she did not want to attend. He said she needed to do this to honor the family of the deceased. He said it was the ‘right thing to do.’ Thus ‘going to the funeral’ became her mantra for always doing the right thing.
These things may be visiting a sick colleague in the hospital instead of meeting friends at happy hour, or putting in a volunteer shift when you would rather be outside enjoying the fall weather, or even standing up for a friend when the other friends in the group want to speak ill of them or exclude them. These are often small decisions which test our scruples and levels of loyalty; yet, they are also things which can mean the world to the other person.
I recently have experienced being ‘the other person’ when individuals elected not to do the ‘right thing.’ It stung and ultimately shifted the human dynamics forever. In Deirdre’s story, she suggests this is often the case. Most of our lives are not so dramatic that we are evaluating grand heroic gestures; they are rather made up of small moments where ‘doing good’ is simply doing the right thing, versus doing nothing. So, when it is often tempting to not do the right thing and follow the pack, while our conscious is bothering us to do the right thing, remember the mantra: “Always go the funeral.” The deceased person may not know you are there, yet you and the family will.