The Aftermath of a Funeral

I know the calendar has May as a full month – but I can say with all certainty that the last time I looked at the calendar and processed the date, it was May 6.

And here we are now in the last full week of the month.

In a nutshell – life in Boweryville exploded about two weeks ago. The Big Guy’s mother passed away. While it was not unexpected, it was sudden. We knew her end was in sight, but certainly not within days. He and I found ourselves in the position of aiding his father through the demanding and emotional pitfalls that planning a funeral can be.

Throughout this experience, I found myself faced with huge ironies that I would like to share – in no particular order.

1. People forget who the funeral is for. Firstly, the deceased and secondly, the surviving spouse or offspring. Any decision that we were faced with making was filtered this way – Would she have wanted this? Does my Father-in-Law want this? Does TBG or his brother want this? Anyone outside of that pecking order was simply not considered. There was a person or two who would make comments about decisions that were made – and I would refer to the Pecking Order. I don’t think you have to apologize for that.

2. Funerals bring out the worst in people. While it’s lovely and romantic to think of loved ones clutching Kleenex to their chest and gently weeping, so great is their pain, the cold hard truth is, there will always be one asshole individual who will try to make ANY situation about themselves. This is not the time for drama. This is not the time to lay a claim. This is not the time to purge yourself of your past regrets. Get. Over. Yourself.

3. There have been many times in my life as a Mother that I have been proud of my children, but never more so that during the day of visitation and the next day at the funeral. My boys stood and shook hands with hundreds of people they didn’t know. They watched people react emotionally and they handled themselves brilliantly. My heart swelled when I was paid a very sincere compliment from someone who appreciated how well the boys conducted themselves. They made eye contact, they smiled when appropriate, they answered questions – usually the same ones – sincerely and politely, for hours. While it made my heart full to see them do that, it nearly made me burst with pride when someone else actually noticed it too.

4. Have I mentioned yet that people are assholes inconsiderate? One person who came to pay his respects actually said to my boys “Well, you’d better get used to being in this line-up because with the age of the people around you, you’re going to be doing this a lot more often!” While First Born Son and Second Born Son were busy picking their chins off the floor, I wondered to myself what his ride home was going to be like – as his wife looked ready to put him in a box herself!

5. For all the times people have thought us crazy for buying shirts, ties and suits for our kids, it totally pays off at a time like this. Second Born Son is not naturally drawn to the button shirt and tie like his brother is. But when I advised he would be wearing a tie for two days – as well as his suit for the funeral, he merely nodded – he knew it was not only proper, but required. I loved him even more for it.

6. A part II to that thought….we realized that we needed to buy SBS shoes – and ended up getting him a pair of MENS SIZE 7 DRESS SHOES. I’m in distress over this! My baby is wearing MENS SHOES! The only thing that saved my breaking heart was his humor. When presented with several Oxford styles as well as a pair of more on-trend slip ons, he replied “I don’t care what dress shoes look like, as long as they are comfortable. I only care what my running shoes look like.” Good to have your priorities Little Man!

7. You truly find out who your friends are in times like this. People you would never anticipate hearing from will show up at your door with a pie, cheese tray or other gesture of kindness. This gives you faith in humanity, not to mention about 10 extra pounds. I think I have to avoid lasagna and funeral sandwiches for a couple of weeks.

8. Regret is a useless emotion. The first time I heard it was in college, but this saying has become my motto. I want to live my life without regret, and I feel,  so far, I’ve done well. Throughout this experience I’ve had a front row seat to actions and consequences regarding regret. Death always wins – none of us gets out of here alive, so you might as well make your choices and actions so you go in a direction without regret.

9. Not every death is a bad thing. When you see someone will not improve, and you know there is suffering involved – all you want for them is peace. If death brings peace, so be it. The living are there to console each other.

10. I need to give some serious thought to my final wishes. I cannot imagine giving my husband, children and parents the chore of planning and imagining my needs and wants. The pain one goes through to create a sendoff their loved one would like is heart wrenching. No one should have to go through that.