Tommorrow is Ash Wednesday. As with all of the major holy days of the Church, this day is steeped in meaning and has a number of different aspects on which to reflect.
While I certainly have attended a fair number of funerals, none of them quite have the same effect on me that Ash Wednesday does. At both you hear the words, "dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return." But on Ash Wednesday, when the priest utters these words while signing your forehead with the cross in ashes, it becomes very personal. I am going to die. The commination which is read prior to this tells me why. I was born in sin and am an actual sinner.
It is for this reason that Lent exists. For 40 days, Christians are called on to exercise special discipline on themselves, in the hope that a habit of detachment from earthly things/sinful things with be made. This won't change the fact that death will come. But because of the cross with which we are signed, a holy life and death are possible. The power of the grave is overcome. Nevertheless, death is still a door through which we must all pass. As such, it is extremely moving to be reminded in such a poignant way. May we all remember how fragile we are and that we are only supported and held together by the power of God. And may we all take seriously the fact that this world is only the beginning. Growing attached to anything in it is silly. May we find our joy and sufficiency in Christ and in his cross.