Part One of the Funeral that Woke Me Up.

I didn’t expect the funeral to be as difficult as it was.  Although I guess it was difficult for reasons I didn’t quite envision.

As we were pulling up to the funeral home, I asked Ki if it was bad that I didn’t feel horribly sad.  Of course he couldn’t answer me, but I guess really I was just thinking out loud.  After all, my grandpa had lived a pretty long successful life, it was just his time.  Although he was gone 3 months from diagnosis, we had known those 3 months that he wasn’t going to get better.  There was acceptance for in that.

I didn’t realize at first how bad my dad was taking it.  But his stone face and paleness quickly became extremely evident to me.  He stood outside smoking and I couldn’t help but to chastise him a little (seriously..your dad dies of lung cancer and 3/5 of his kids are outside smoking at his funeral…uggh fuck that addiction).  A pastor from his old church showed up and he introduced me to him before taking the pastor inside to view grandpa’s body.  He would later attempt to introduce me to him again 10 minutes later, completely forgetting he had just done so outside.

I stood outside with my sister for a few waiting to see if our brother would soon show up.  She told me that dad had been up standing by the casket…occasionally reaching into to rub grandpa’s hands.  I still can’t picture it without getting choked up, wanting to find some place to hide, and just cry.  I’m so glad I didn’t see him do that, because the memory would never fade and I would have lost my shit completely.

When I walked in there was a little moment when a lot of dad’s family all had to stop and stare and then grab somebody and ask if that was indeed who they thought it was aka me.  It had been so long since I’ve seen some of these people.  It took a funeral…naturally…to bring this family back together all in one room.  And everything was making me nervous.  I just stood there in the entryway for a while kind of finding myself wringing my hands a little bit trying to work out some nervous energy before I eventually sat down.  I didn’t go up and see grandpa’s body before the funeral.

The funeral started.  A pastor who was my grandpa’s friend officiated…he had known my grandpa for most of his life so the service was really beautiful, really personal.  I found myself getting choked up and then the tears would randomly uncontrollably fall out of my eyes.  It was always worse when they would play a song… something about music at funerals is always killer.  My sadness was odd because it turned out to be so many things.  My view was mostly blocked from the caskets…but I could see my grandpa’s hands folded over his stomach.  Stiff and energy-less.  It felt so crazy to realize he was really gone and that was just his shell laying up there.  And then when I saw my dad crying… one of my uncles sobbing pretty hard… my grandma crying… every damn time I took notice of this I would nearly lose my shit.  I sat there at times literally feeling like I could not breathe.  It was the most awful feeling in the world.  And of course I could not help but to think… how I would feel on the day that I would have to say goodbye to my own father.  As morbid as the thought was, it kept entering my head.

I wanted to avoid the whole little receiving type line scenario that happens after funerals.  The seating is dismissed and directed towards the front row to say your condolences to the family.  They were my fucking family, I wanted to tell them on my own time, in my own way, when I had had a bit of breathing room but of course I got ushered in that direction and couldn’t run away.  I can’t see my family cry.  I lose it.  And so I did.  As I was giving people I hadn’t even seen in so so long hugs and telling them I was sorry I couldn’t stop the damn tears and they were asking ME if I was the one who was okay.  I don’t think anybody will really understand what was making me cry.. it even surprised me how emotional I was but… but when I got to my dad and he was still crying and I gave him a hug I just burst out in tears completely.  My dad’s grief was absolutely the most painful thing ever.  I will never not be able to think about it and not feel a sinking feeling in my heart.

I went up and saw grandpa before they closed the casket.  Dad came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder.  He asked me if grandpa “looked good”.  I have no idea why people do this at viewings and funerals but it always happens… there will be comments that the deceased “looks good” or questions on if they actually do…usually from the bereaved who seem to want some feeling that the dead look alive, like they should.  I don’t know where this started, but it has seemed to become proper funeral etiquette to compliment the dead… but I guess the conversation is already so awkward at funerals, that awkward begins to sound normal after a while.  I of course told dad yes…. but he didn’t look like grandpa…you could tell the last few weeks of the cancer had taken hold and changed his physique completely.

Ki and I got in our car to await them taking him to the hearse and start the procession to the cemetery.  I hadn’t looked much at Ki during the service.  He had only met my grandpa a few times so I don’t think he felt much personal grief for a man he didn’t really know, but I think the whole funeral experience really took a toll on him… especially since his dad passed away earlier this year.  There are still some days I have to stop and remember that he is still actively grieving for his own father, even if his dad was so far away and such an inactive part of his life… it was still his dad and that loss is extremely fresh.  I don’t really remember what we said in the car, but I burst into tears once again when I heard myself say “I should have went and saw him before he died.”  At that moment I felt extreme regret that I hadn’t.  How do I feel now with a couple days passed….. there is some regret there that I didn’t see him while he was sick but alive… a little, I won’t lie.  But my biggest regret is not seeing him more when he was healthy and alive.  That is my biggest regret for sure.  I don’t necessarily think that my decision not to see him riddled with cancer was wrong, but I think it might have been a mistake…and it is one I will never repeat.  Arguably it would have been a lot easier to go see him while he was sick had we been a lot closer, but I won’t use that as an excuse again either because I don’t think it is a good enough one.

I don’t know why, but the small service held at the cemetery is always easier.  The service with the body up front and music and all that is just the most horrible gut wrenching thing ever.  The small service at the cemetery is just a layer of finality to all that I guess.  The casket is closed, the hole is dug, the flowers are there, it’s over.  And cue weird casket and vault compliments. Funerals truly have the weirdest conversations ever and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.

After all that we went back to my grandma’s house.  For food.  Another funeral ritual I will never understand, but I guess it works because everybody was hungry.  And I guess it gives everyone a chance to begin to do that whole little life goes on thing.  How depressing would it be if we all just went home to our own little lives after such a sad gathering.

But this was where the second round of grief came into play.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natalie
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 10:07:17

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Raychel. Funerals are bizarre in so many ways. I always find the gardest is watching loved ones grieve… watching their pain. And yeah, being there and thinking about death can really scare me… thinking about my own parents, my brother, my husband and what it would feel to lose any of them. It seems to real at funerals, too close. Big hugs girl.


    • Raychela
      Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:52:45

      (((hug))) Thanks Nat.
      I had a friend say after telling her about the funeral “you take funerals pretty hard don’t you”… it seemed like such an odd comment but I have attended a couple funerals with her so I guess I realized she meant that I tend to get emotional at some point during them and I told her that well yes, I guess I do but it is often times about watching other people hurting that hurts me so much. My own grief I can deal with, seeing my loved ones in pain is nearly unbearable at times.
      I know I am ridiculously beyond lucky in that… my grandpa is the first close family member I have ever lost in my entire life…obviously not lucky that he is gone heh but just that in 27 years I’ve only just now lost somebody in my family… but yup… everything becomes so real then that none of us are permanent and it just feel so unimaginable to think of losing somebody you’ve either known your whole life or been with for a really long time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: