While I wasn't personally invited to a family member's intimate wedding, his sister was, and while the ceremony was far away, requiring travel and hotel expenses, I was surprised when she was seriously thinking about not going.
She was his only living family since their parents were dead!
And yes, I understand that it can be a financial strain to attend weddings, funerals, even milestone birthdays. But if it's possible, I really strongly believe you should try to go, even if you have kids.
I'm the first to admit that I missed way too many important life events, with the excuse of being far away. Or having too many kids, which I do think is a pretty valid reason sometimes.
But now that I'm older, I look back and wonder what I was thinking. And I really wish I had taken the time out of my schedule to be there when I could.
It's important for friends and family to show their support with their presence at these types of events, especially since they don't happen every day and are really special to the people involved.
These close relationships are invaluable, and being there to say "Congratulations" or "I'm so sorry" is part of the deal with families and good friends.
But I've also got pretty selfish reasons too, I suppose, which I still think are valid: when we go to these parties and receptions, we're giving ourselves a gift too. At birthday parties and weddings, it's the gift of thankfulness and appreciation that we're alive and well. That we're able to share in someone's joy of a happy life together or another year of living.
And at funerals, it's closure. It's appreciation for the small things around us that we might take advantage of on a regular basis. I find myself leaving with a deeper understanding of my own life, where it is, and where I want it to be.
Now I'm not saying you lug all the kids to your second cousin's funeral. Parents need to determine if that experience is appropriate based on their kids' age and personality.
But I do think it's important to make the effort personally when you can. And if it's something that makes sense for kids, they should come too, even if it costs more than you wish it would. Because I truly believe that it's those memories, those times together, the acknowledgment of lives lived and lost, that really help give us appreciation for what we have and who we are. It gives perspective about our own experiences.
And I'm certain that it gives our children the same, even if they might not exactly understand everything that's going on. They can still learn from example: Family and friends are important and we're there to support them when we can.
I can't really think of a more important value I want my kids to learn.
Do you try to celebrate and mourn with your friends and family?
Image via Epsos/Flickr