Tributes Trump Funerals Evelyn Dove Coleman To my way of thinking, it is much better to give people their flowers while they live. That is why my vote every time will go to birthday parties, tributes, and roasts. At those events, the people being honored can hear the friends and family give testimonials. They can see the flowers and read the cards themselves. They get to know what people say about them publicly. They get to smile, cry, and laugh out loud. As I experienced the intense and massive media coverage of Michael Jackson's funeral, I kept asking the air, "How many people said these things to him while he lived?" I hope the answer is "all of these and more." But then, he called himself a lonely man. Funerals have a historic and traditional place. They help the family with the grief process. The ceremonies offer the bereaved opportunities to express how they felt about the dearly departed. But the honoree, in each and every instance, cannot be an active participant. I am not proposing that our culture stop having funeral ceremonies or memorial services. To the contrary, I simply suggest that we do more honoring people while they live. When someone is going through a life challenge, that is when they need to hear from their friends. When someone is spiraling along a difficult path, that is the time to offer a helping hand or counseling. When a person is lonely, telephone, visit, have lunch, go to a movie. Visit sick people so they know that their friends have not forgotten and forsaken them. If you cannot visit, send a note while stamps are still only forty-four cents. In this age of universal internet and cellular communication, an old-fashioned letter through the regular mail is a rarity. But writing to someone to tell them how much they mean to you is a good way to give people tributes while they live. Tributes don't always have to be expensive and fancy. The group song presented during Michael Jackson's funeral was called "Heal the World." Let's begin the healing by giving tributes to people we care about in small ways such as letters they can read, cards they can see, and flowers they can smell. You go first. Begin today doing what you would do if your friend died tomorrow. *** Evelyn Dove Coleman is a prayer counselor with PathChoice Ministry, 539 Briary Run, Kinston, North Carolina 28501. 252/527-3950. firstname.lastname@example.org. http://giving.unc.edu/women/Summer2007/page3/page3.html.