Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I have truly been lost in the BoZone the last 10 days or so. I lost my way the moment I answered the phone. A close relative informed me of a death in the family. Immediate grief set in. The following days became a fog. A trip south to attend the services and stand or sit for hours crowded in with other grieving relatives and friends while the immediate family stood numb trying to deal with the unsought overwhelming show of support. I wonder if we helped them cope or made the process worse? I know I did not feel better when I finally began the 600 mile drive back to Maine. My pain will have to wear itself out I guess.

Rituals, traditions, and the best clothes are dug out from the back of our closets when someone close dies. Moods are somber and serious. Jokes are carefully made in attempts to bring some relief without being insensitive. Copious amounts of food are set up on tables while strangers mingle with relatives. Old friendships are re-kindled, old feuds forgotten, and possible new connections created.

Like weddings, funerals bring people together in celebration. One celebrates a new beginning. The other celebrates an end. Tears accompany both. Then we move on. Damaged maybe, but we move on.

I have some experience with death. Live 59 years and it has to touch you more than a few times. No matter what ceremonial rigamarole we wrap death in, grief always ends up being a truly personal struggle. Sure it is fine to say misery loves company, but our misery is felt individually, no matter what the person next to you feels.

Tired platitudes are pulled out of religious hats, out of secular hats and used to try to make our pain go away. "She's in God's hands now", "Her pain is gone now", or "She is in a better place now" - All of them not meant to make the deceased feel better, but aimed at keeping their memory alive in our minds. If the person is important enough to us, their memory will always be there, an uncomfortable knot in our soul. We will sift through our memories and settle on one or two that make us smile and maybe a few that make us weep. But part of them will always be here, no matter what.

With this in mind, I would say that none of us ever really dies as long as someone remembers us.

RIP Erin.


okjimm said...

I hate funerals. I won't go to my own. A memorial keg of beer will do just fine when I die. Folks will be asked to bring their own popcorn.

Take care, friend.

squatlo said...

Sorry for your loss, man. We deal with death a little differently in our family, or at least we have so far... Any time my family gets together the laughter follows, no matter how sad the occasion might be that brought us to the same place. We deal with sorrow by making one another laugh, telling funny stories, and when we cry it's usually from laughing too hard together.
After my dad passed away we had a gathering in our house that included about twenty beer drinking friends of his finishing off his keg in the basement, shooting pool, and telling funny stories about the old man. People came to the house expecting a somber, dreary few moments of shared consolation, but left with a party buzz and a lot of funny stories to tell later. Highly recommend a party the next time you get folks together, it works wonders.

jadedj said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss. I'm with both comments here. I hate funerals. I have instructed my family to do exactly as Squatlo outlined, or I am going to come back and haunt their asses. The greatest compliment they could give me is to remember the laughing we shared. The subtle jokes and the knowledge that we just liked being together...most of the time. All we have here on this damned planet is one another...that gives our lives meaning.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I've been out of pocket for a few weeks, Mike, and am just getting my reading up to date today. Sorry to hear of your loss.

A fellow I know in town just passed away last weekend from cancer, at the age of 51. When I visited the funeral home I was expecting a somber visit. It was anything but - everyone was sharing funny stories. I surprised myself by contributing a couple of my own.