04 November 2007

Funerals. Definitely Hell.

So we all know that the rituals surrounding death are for the living and not the dead, yes? The dead don't care anymore. Wherever you believe the spirit has gone, it is no longer among our perceptions. Or at least it is beyond the perception of everyone who isn't psychic, which, unfortunately, includes me.

It has been nice to have my sisters around, even though it was for a funeral. They left Saturday, both of them need to get back to work. Neither will be home for Thanksgiving, but both will be home for a while in December.

Almost everyone was in town for the funeral. It is a shame that with the exceptions of funerals, weddings, and major holidays, I rarely see my cousins. There's a lot of 'em. On this side of the family, six first cousins, seven second cousins. The little ones get so big, so quickly. One of my cousins' sons is getting his driver's license in a few weeks. Last time I saw the kid and paid any attention to him, he was a pudgy, noisy, and badly behaved 8 year-old. He's taller than most of the family now, and a wrestler for his high school, thin and wiry. Quiet, too. I told his mother, "Your kids make me feel old." She rolled her eyes and said, "Tell me about it. I'm turning 40 this year."

Heartbreaking is the only way to describe the calling hours; the actual religious services surrounding funerals usually upset me. I don't know why clergy of every stripe and color find it necessary to talk about how their god is better than everyone else's during funeral services. It has happened at every funeral I've been at over the past 5 years. Catholic funerals, Methodist funerals, Presbyterian funerals...it makes me crazy. At DH's Methodist uncle's funeral, the minister, a learned fella with lots of letters behind his name, spent over 15 minutes railing about the Islamic faith. Inappropriate, people, inappropriate. Ever heard the phrase "a time and season for all things"? Funerals not the place to debate philosophical viewpoints, ya know? The minister for my Aunt's funeral service was no different, spending about 5 minutes on how Christians Are Better Than Everyone Else. Sigh.

As I've pointed out during this whole process, it is far easier to be pissed off than it is to be sad. Being irritated with the celebrant is one way that I get through funerals. I know it is a bit irrational for me to get so annoyed.

A friend of my parents told me that the hardest part of the whole ritual for him is the graveside ceremony. During Catholic funerals, that is tough. Or at least it seems more traumatic to me, probably because the Catholics can't do ANYTHING in less than an hour, and it is a long, drawn out process. But the hardest part for me of the whole ordeal is walking in to the funeral home the first time and seeing the person, family or friend, laid out in the casket. The death somehow becomes more 'real' to me at that point, the finality of it hits me at that moment, even though by that time I've known for a while that the person passed away.

The stress of the last two weeks has shown itself in a couple of physical manifestations I could do without. A tremor in my hands. My normally beautiful skin (nah, I'm not vain) broken out in hives and spots. A headache that wakes me up in the middle of the night and has sent me searching for the strongest analgesics in the house. The inability to sleep more than about an hour and a half at a time, which is worse than my usual bad sleep habits. The fact that she's gone hits me at odd moments, much like I imagine the pain of a phantom limb must feel, stabs and twinges.

One (more) thing that drives me nuts about funerals is the way people will remark to one another, "Doesn't he/she look good?" Dude, they're dead. It don't get much worse than that. But this time I had to agree with that inane remark, because my Aunt looked like she did when I was a little girl, when she was working full time and wore beautifully made suits, jewelry, great heels with purses to match, had hair and nails and makeup just so.

It hurts. It makes me dammed angry that she didn't take better care of herself and manage her Type II diabetes better. Things that would normally not bother me are magnified to heights of stupidity that could cause me to say something I'll regret deeply later. My meds are keeping me on a sort-of even keel, and I've needed to be strong for other family members. My DH has been the strong one for me, unflappable and telling me when I'm making mountains out of molehills. Time will make it easier. But patience has never been one of my virtues. Ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Lucy
I'm glad your my daughter!
guess who