Working the funeral of a friend

This was not my original plan but it worked out for the best. I knew my husband would be “working” but I thought I would attend as a mourner. That status changed after I was handed my name-tag. There was a badge down at the funeral home with my name on it. I used it when attending funerals in a more professional capacity. Didn’t think I would wear it last Friday but I pinned it to my jacket.

So, it was official. I was “on the job”. Rode in the lead car with my husband and one of the assistants. The church was beautiful with magnificent stained glass windows. As far as I remembered, this was my first Catholic funeral. I walked in behind the casket and watched the preparations for the viewing in a room just off from the sanctuary. Time for one more goodbye.

Climbed back into the lead car to get the family. I stood next to the curb between the two limousines and watched the family members fill the cars. Then (what seemed like moments later), I watched these same cars empty. There was that wave of humanity again. People instinctively moving and I was one of them. I kept looking for somewhere to be (the outside door, right outside the sanctuary, just inside the church, near the viewing room).

Mourners streamed in and out of the room deeply moved. Selfishly, I wished time would slow just a little but it just kept ticking away. Watched one of the funeral directors and a couple of the assistants approach the casket and I averted my eyes. Did not wish to see the casket being closed that last time.

I stayed just outside the sanctuary with my husband during the service. Could see and hear everything and, once again, I experienced mixed emotions. To me, funerals represented a loss (a parting) but also a celebration of life and an acknowledgement of things to come. Now, one final destination and this journey would truly be over.

When I climbed out of the car at the cemetery, I felt a little lost and needed something to do. I asked my husband. He suggested moving flowers so that was what I did. I walked to the back of the van, grabbed arrangements, and placed them upright on the ground. I then picked one and walked across the grass. Kept looking up at the tent over the grave and down at my feet. Seemed like I traveled there in only a few steps but it must have been more than that. Walked back to see the pallbearers with the casket preparing to move forward.

Everyone flowed toward the grave. The family was seated. Time kept ticking again. The priests were finished. It was over. I walked back to the car with my husband.

This had really happened. I was never going to see my friend ever again. Time does not stop nor does it even slow down slightly. Life is so short.


Related Posts:
Saying goodbye at the funeral home
That last phone conversation
Attended my first Episcopalian funeral a couple of weeks ago…

Posted in Death, Family, Funeral, Funeral Service, In my brain, Life, Mind, Mind & Spirit, Mortality, Personal, Religion, Spirit. Comments Off on Working the funeral of a friend

Saying goodbye at the funeral home

Did I mention my husband’s business handled the funeral of our friend? Since the funeral home was only about 5 minutes from the house, it was no big deal for my husband to swing by and get me. Remembering the optimistic squirrel I witnessed just moments before, I chatted nervously in the car but sounded upbeat. My husband parked and we both entered the funeral home through the side chapel doors.

How many times had I paused at the open casket of someone’s loved one and said words out of respect? Hesitation this time. I purposely avoided the visitation on Thursday evening because I couldn’t deal with the thought of my friend in this new context of death. Now, it was Friday morning. I was so sure that the casket would have been closed by now but it was not. My husband passed and turned the corner. I slowed my stride, took a deep breath, and approached. Many mixed emotions. Satisfied that those who prepared her body had done a good job. Angry because whenever I needed to fuss at my husband about something, it would now be on my own. Happy that her beauty was still evident even after death. Sad that I would truly miss her.

Breathed deeply a second time and touched her hand. It was cold and suddenly my figurative “blurred vision” of the past couple of days snapped into focus. Still touching her hand:

Okay, sweetie. This is it. It was a joy to know you. I will miss you. I promise to take care of your friend [my husband]. Rest now.

I joined my husband in his office and talked until it was time to go to the church.


Related Posts:
That last phone conversation
Ever wonder about the optimism of squirrels?
Attended my first Episcopalian funeral a couple of weeks ago…

Posted in Death, Family, Funeral, Funeral Service, In my brain, Life, Mind, Mind & Spirit, Mortality, Personal, Religion, Spirit. Comments Off on Saying goodbye at the funeral home