In the last year and quarter, I’ve gone to six memorial services or funerals. Lately, I’ve felt that’s all that is left to us. We live, we love, we die.
If we’re lucky, if we’re very lucky, we have people in our lives who will grieve for us when we are gone. My great aunt passed away on Christmas Eve. I didn’t know her. This in itself is so sad because I would have liked to know her stories, heard them, grown up with them. My grandfather didn’t speak with his siblings (most of them) for whatever reasons. So the cousins on that side of the family, I didn’t know.
Right now I have two friends who are coping with the loss of their partners. Men who were dear to them. This morning I read an email from one of these friends and it broke my heart to hear how callously she was treated after her husband’s death. Officials were rude, inconsiderate, and obnoxious. She’s grieving and struggling to draw breath. She has no energy to deal with snotty officials who can’t summon a shred of common decency.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t coping with death. My grandparents started dying when I was five. I don’t have a lot of memories of them other than funerals and stories others tell. As I read my friend’s email about her experiences, I couldn’t help but feel her grief and her sorrow.
My great aunt has 22 descendents who seemed to spend her visitation celebrating her life rather than grieving her loss. In my mind, this is how a memorial should go. It should honor the person who has passed with their stories – good, bad, and indifferent.
My friend who sent the email – we are email friends. We started on a writer’s group and spun off to exchange regular emails – often daily. I’ve never met her. I never met her husband. Yet in all the funerals and memorials I’ve attended in the last year. This is the one that moved me, touched me so deeply I was compelled to write.
For all the people in my life and in the world who are dealing with grief. I don’t know if this will help but I hope it expresses an empathy for what you feel: