I started this blog because I wanted to start writing again. And so far, I’ve found things to write about that run the gamut from sports figures, to books, to personal loss. Today – I find myself AT a loss. So many things spinning around in my head, but I’m not sure how much I want to – or should – share. However, this blog is something that I said I would be completely honest with, so…I shall do so here. I’m afraid that nothing else will come until I get this out.
Folks, let me give a piece of free advice. It is NOT ok to spring something relatively major on people AT A FUNERAL. One shouldn’t, for example, decide relatively unilaterally to bury one’s son’s ashes *at the same time as his grandmother is being buried – and in the same hole* without mentioning it to other family members. Because, having just experienced that this weekend – it is DEVASTATING.
I don’t know about you all, but that period of time between a death and the service is spent largely in mentally preparing. Going home again, seeing family members you may not get along with, dealing with the service and burial, dealing with the aftermath…it’s a lot, as anyone who has gone through it will testify. So that mental preparation is key to making sure that sanity is gripped tightly, that emotions are kept reasonably in check, and that opinions are kept behind a firmly zipped mouth. Especially when you’re going home to a place that tends to be the antithesis of what you believe in. And all it takes to wreck two full weeks of preparing is to be confronted with a complete surprise in finding out that your brother’s ashes will now be part of the equation – AS THE URN IS BEING WALKED TO THE HOLE IN THE GROUND. While being pretty darn sure that it’s not what he would have wanted, but is going to happen anyway. Watching family members look confused and appalled, because they thought the service was over and were chatting loudly in the back. Seeing others look horrified when realizing that some of their family had already walked away. Watching your dad get his ass chewed because people didn’t know – even though he didn’t know for sure, either. Seeing YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER CRUSHED because she adored her uncle and didn’t understand what was happening – like the rest of us standing there.
Grief is a hard thing, and it affects us all in different ways. And as I’ve written before (https://stillmorewords.com/2020/01/28/when-grieving-feels-weird/), THAT’S OK. But what is *not* ok is to use your grief as a bludgeon to others, to try and make them feel like they loved the individual less than you did. I don’t know how one works around that, honestly. I’m just experiencing it for the first time myself. I *do* know that it makes me less likely to want to be in that person’s presence, or to want my kids to be there either. It makes me angry and hurt that this wasn’t just done to me and other family members, but to her own granddaughter. What it doesn’t do? Make me view that person with any degree of positivity, but instead to see them through a lens of hurt and anger.
I found myself explaining a lot of things about traditional funerals and services to my girl before all this happened, as she’s old enough to ask why and understand the answers. So much of what is “traditional” actually is not something that would fit her dad or I at all. In fact, much of the “traditional” steps are being done away with by people all over, in favor of eco-burials, or something more personal. Some traditions are there for a reason, however. Like that of people knowing what is going to happen. People deserve the right to be prepared, and by forcefully yanking that away with no warning, you’ve broken boundaries that may never get repaired. And, grief or no, that’s all on you.