"LOL" Funeral

Written by Posted On Friday, 17 May 2024 00:00

Did you hear the one about the Mom who sent “LOL” regarding the passing of a loved one?

In this case it was the older generation innocently texting & trying, thinking LOL stood for, “Lots of Love”, not the “Laughing Out Loud” that has become today’s version of the abbreviation.

Texting & Trying is Drinking & Driving for old people: Generational Confusion. 

This proves there is comedy in tragedy, as well as hilarity in definitions and communication.

Sending LOL to someone regarding a death seems ridiculous, and yet, we need our sense of humor even when things are actually sad.

Most funerals I have attended are pretty somber, although people do their best to put forth a smile.  Sometimes it’s accidental!

When my wife’s grandma passed away in 2001 the family decided to hold the viewing in her living room.

I was a newlywed and wondered if this was some kind of ruse to mess with me…who holds a funeral in the deceased’s house when the chapel is down the street?

Yet as Uncle Doug pulled up in his station wagon, revealing his sweet mother’s casket in the back (luckily the seats folded down), and casually carried the coffin into the house along with his sons, I realized this was no joke and had never seen this kind of funeral or family!

I was asked to play the piano for this important event, and tasked to bring my keyboard, 88-keys weighing over 60 lbs, which I lumbered awkwardly into grandma’s old house.

Once inside, there were too many people in the living room and kitchen to fit my keyboard anywhere proper.

Looking around, I found the one place I could fit: The Hallway!

As I placed the keyboard in the hallway perpendicular to the bathroom door, with the keyboard in the hall, I sat on a stool (pun intended) in the bathroom where I emanated all the sweetest sounds (dad joke!), playing piano hymns from the potty (alliteration at it’s finest) as folks walked by asking to use the restroom.

In between tickling “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” I would say, “There’s another restroom in grandma’s bedroom you’re free to use.  Please pass the time in there, and don’t forget to sign your name in the guestbook that you came to say your final goodbyes.”

This is an all true story my friends!  I wish I had a photo of it, but all of the cousins, uncles, and passersby were laughing so hard at the wackiness of my predicament no one realized it would go down in family lore that the “newlywed married-in struggling to make a living entertainer” was playing church songs from the commode.

The point is this: We have to laugh no matter the situation we find ourselves in, even when it stinks.  

I attended another funeral for the other side of the family a few years ago that I still laugh about because a song came on the radio today that reminded me of the experience.

I drove my in-laws 5 hours one way to attend this funeral, the passing of a great aunt, whose family decided to have the viewing not in her house, but in a reception center with no program planned.

Walking in, we said our goodbyes, hugged the relatives we didn’t know, and sat down to contemplate the moment.

That’s when I realized how quiet the whole situation was.  No one speaking.  No ambiance.  No music.

I noticed a piano in the corner and asked one of the relatives who didn’t know me if I could play the piano to add a touch of light to the funeral.  She said, “That’s fine, but don’t go too crazy.”

I sat down and began playing hymns from memory to honor the deceased.

After the 3rd reverent hymn, the daughter of the aunt came over and said, in a raspy joking tone, “Hey, do you want to liven it up a bit?  Mom’s favorite was “I’m All About That Bass”, as she laughed in a way that made me think she was messing around.

I laughed in return, and played yet another hymn, to continue the reverence of the event.

Eventually I made my way into a very slow and hymnal version of Elton John’s “Your Song”, “Tiny Dancer”, and “Candle In The Wind”, followed by some of Billy Joel’s greatest hits, “Honesty”, “Always A Woman To Me”, and “Piano Man”, keeping it “church and funeral friendly” (yes, it’s possible, perhaps someday I’ll have to make an album of these: Funeral Favorites From The Top 40), people didn’t even notice the difference between the spiritual hymns and the chart-topping hits.

I played happily for 2 hours until the whole event was over.

As we left the building, my father-in-law said, “That was extremely thoughtful of you to play those hymns, thank you.”

And then, out of nowhere, the daughter who had joked with me before came out of nowhere and said, “Yeah, I heard you sneak in Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ but I never heard you play the one song I requested: “All About That Bass!”

I realized she was right, and I had forgotten her request!

Apparently she literally wanted the whole room to dance and have a party, but I wasn’t aware she was serious, nor did I think she’d noticed the other hits I had slyly played!

It was an LOL Funeral moment for me.  I meant “Lots of Love” but she meant “Laugh Out Loud”.

Stories of this kind abound in my career and life, and they mostly come about because of one reason:

The Promise to Share & Serve with our significant & unique Signature Moves matters! 

I put myself out there to give, and often come away being kicked like a clown.  And yet, I would feel guilty and ashamed had I never played the keyboard from the bathroom or sat down to play at the great aunt’s funeral, even if to the chagrin of some for the songs I failed to play.

We cheat the world when we don’t keep The Promise by sharing that which we have been gifted!

The Promise to give that which only we can give, whether it be an LOL of laughter out loud or lots of love is of the essence in life, whether to celebrate each day, or the celebration of the passing of someone crossing the eternal rainbow into the next life.

How are you sharing your Promise today in your own LOL way?

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Jason Hewlett

Having delivered thousands of presentations over two decades, Jason Hewlett is the only speaker in the world teaching leadership skills, tools, and mindsets in such a powerfully unconventional way. With out-of-the-box performances of uncanny musical and comedy impressions of incredible stage legends, Jason’s keynote, The Promise: Become a Legendary Leader and Discover Your Signature Moves is a speech that feels like a show, entertainment that feels like enlightenment, music that feels like a difference-maker. Audiences leave with proven processes and immediately implementable takeaways to transform their business and leadership skills and invite a whole lot more joy into life.


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