Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

The Funeral

Monday, March 12, 2012
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One of the teachers died where my girls go to school.  She taught 7th grade, so they didn’t know her all that well, but they clearly know who she was. 

Both the wake and the funeral were at times I could not make. The wake was too far out that it would be over by the time I came home from work.  The funeral was held at where the girls go to school, but during the day, which means during working hours. 

Two of the things I’ve become since Lisa’s death are a realist and jaded.  It’s convenient that they both apply here.  I understand they we are not all going to get the Whitney Houston month long tributes, but the one day funeral process seems a little broken to me.

I am not fully versed in all religions and how they mourn the deceased.  But my wife was Jewish and we did do a small version of a Shiva after the service.  I liked the idea of this Shiva thing, three (should be seven) days of not leaving the house and having people come over with food and visit to get you through the week.  Seemed like a good idea to me.  Problem is, my friends are Catholic and when it was announced after the service there would be a Shiva, they must not have understood and nobody came.  Not a single friend from high school came to my wife’s Shiva.

They all came to the funeral service, but we were all sitting in seats in a church.  The service ended, people came up, shook my hand, and left.  I didn’t get a chance to really talk to them.  For some of my friends, this would be the last I would see them.  I don’t think they know what to do with me now.  I wonder if everyone did a service like a Shiva it would take some of that stigma away.  Like anything else, the longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it becomes.  If there would have been an opportunity to sit and visit in our house, it might have seemed more natural to them.

Even a funeral home is quiet and somber.  Maybe all services should be done in the home.   I know funerals are not typically a young person’s game.  If you’re lucky, your spouse dies when you’re old and tired and the thought of having people over can be a hassle.  So you won’t see too much out-of-the-box thinking from that generation.  But from what I went through, this entire process could use some upgrades.

How about six months later, holding a check-in service after the person dies to create a way to reconnect friends and family?  It might go a long way in keeping people close to you without feeling so awkward.  Another new rule, every friend has to stop in once at 2:00 a.m. within the first month.  See, this is me being jaded again. I bring up these ideas because I remember when this was all fresh and everyone did the “anything I can do for you, let me know” routine. Yet we all know that if you are at an all-time low at 3:37 a.m. on a Tuesday and you called for them to come over, it wouldn’t happen and your friend’s spouse would get upset for the late call. “Can’t he grieve during normal business hours?”

Yes, I am a realist and my new fandangled funeral process is a pipe dream.  Fair enough.  But having a teacher pass away at my school and not being able to show my respects due to tight timelines made me drift back to Lisa’s few days of service.  I realized how lonely of an experience it was and how I wish that paying respects went on a little longer.

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