Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thinking on death

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a funeral for the wife of a childhood friend of his. She's younger than me... she's younger than my younger sister. They have a 4-mo-old baby. She had a difficult pregnancy and was afraid to be left alone with the baby. She killed herself.

This alone raises all kinds of emotions in me. How much anger Eric's friend must be feeling. The fear, the shock, and anguish. And the child... how do you teach your son why he doesn't know his mother?

But the funeral.

It was held at a small town church that's probably been there for a hundred years. There was no viewing or graveside service, just the eulogies and sermons, hymns, prayers, and Bible passages.

Now, this is where my mind starts to go in twelve different directions, so excuse the ramblings that may ensue.

It's been over seven years since I left religion behind me. I haven't had to deal with a lot of death in my life. I went to a total of two funerals growing up and three since I met Eric. The first two were parents of friends of mine; the last were a premature baby, Eric's great-aunt, and this man's wife. I had no opportunity to attend funerals for the two deaths that mattered the most to me - my college friend Shane and my Dutch grandfather. Maybe this would feel different if more people I loved were gone?

The hymns, and the prayers, and the verse, and the talk of heaven and happiness and till we meet again, I mean.

It just feels like you're not dealing with the death. It's like a sad denial. And it doesn't seem healthy or fair to me. How do I explain? I need closure, I need to grieve, to be angry and hurt and broken. Otherwise, I just don't think I'd be able to ever really put myself back together. I understand that people like to think that death isn't really the end, that you'll see your loved ones again, that they're up in heaven hugging Jesus right now. I get that it's comforting to people. I just don't get why. You have to allow yourself to grieve!

See, to me, being told these lines about someone I care about doesn't feel fair. Ugh, I feel all tangled up right now, like I'm not doing a very good job of explaining myself.

To me, these thoughts about an afterlife aren't reassuring, they just make me feel worse. Hopeful... setting myself up for disappointment, unable to really let go and heal... depressing... wondering why you are happily in heaven dancing with angels while I am here, going through so much pain. So much suffering. Without a comforting word from you. Because you're not there anymore, but then they say maybe you are, so why are you doing this to me, this torture? Why don't you care enough to make me feel better?

Yes?

I feel that the finality of separation is ultimately easier to deal with. Agony, yes. Wanting to see you again but knowing I never will. I can work through that, I can be okay again. But this hope that we'll be together again... doesn't that just make life harder?

I don't want to be remembered with a funeral. I don't want my lifeless corpse put on display and then buried underground. Cremate me and share me with the wind. Celebrate our memories and dance out your pain. Scream and laugh and cry. FEEL SOMETHING. And then let me go. Live.
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1 comment:

  1. I been through way too many deaths and funerals in my life (at least 15), some which felt unfair (a 9 year old girl with a brain tumor, a senior in high school with lung cancer), some which we saw coming for a long time (all my grandparents). They were all terrible.

    For me the hope for the future didn't get in the way of my grief. I grieved for Grandma B for years, I'm still not over it, 8 years later, but that's because I was such a bratty teenager to her and I never got the chance to really get to know her because of that. Believing I'd see her again didn't make it better or worse, personally. It certainly didn't stop me from feeling something. I felt everything.

    But I know what you're saying. I've been to funerals where it seemed like everyone's attitude was kind of like, "Oh well. Time to get over it. We'll see them again." Even if they were elderly and sick ... that's so cold and heartless. It made me sick. At my 9 year old cousin's wake, a woman went through the entire receiving line saying to each person (the girl's parents and grandparents) "Remember, there are no losses, only blessings!" Urgh!

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