Feb. 17th, 2012

dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
http://dcseain.livejournal.com/tag/death%20%26%20dying are the now 20 entries thus far tagged with Death & Dying.

This past fall, i led a small seminar that evolved into a discussion of memorial rituals for the deceased.

First, I'm old enough to have attended funerals of family, friends, friends' siblings, family, and the odd work obligation attendance. I'm old enough to have unintentionally missed the funeral of friend of mine. I'm sorry to have missed it, but this it was, and thus it shall be, and i'm okay with that. I carry him in the light, and believe he knows that and meant no disrespect.

Second, I want to say that i believe strongly that funerals are for the living. They're about the dead, but they are for the living. We carry on though they have stopped. Mourning is appropriate and necessary -- i'm a huge fan of the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva. You get a whole week to reassemble yourself enough to keep going without the pressure of seeing yourself or needing to do much other than what you want/need. I wish this practice were more prevalent in our culture. At any rate, someone passing ought not cause one to forget that one is still here, and need must carry on.

Third, i want to say that "about the dead" means that the ritual of funeral is about remembering the departed -- deceased if you'd rather, yet still for those of us yet living. The same type of memorial does not suit every deceased person/living person combination who may be present and/or who had a relationship with the departed.

If one attends a funeral out of other than necessity, one does it in support of the living and their/your memories of the deceased. The living need your support. The dead should be acknowledged in a way appropriate to your relationship to them, and in a way that lets the deceased know that they will be remembered and may/should move to the beyond, then focus again on the living and carry on.

Fourth, some examples:

One friend, who shall remain nameless, had a fraught -- at best -- relationship with one set of her grandparents. After the grandmother died, friend was the one tasked with disposing of their ashes, which she unceremoniously and with anger dumped in location i shall not even bother to specify, far from where the grandparents wanted their remains, in an element that i'm sure likely displeased them, but that carried their remains and spirits such that remained far away from her, her mother, and all of us. That was right and fitting. There was no love lost, and no love went into the funeral such as it was.

My father had an Air Force funeral and was interred, 21 guns and all. Fifteen-year-old me sat their hearing the guns wondering what the students at the nearby high school thought each time they heard that. Funerals are funny that way -- you never know how your brain wil react to anything. Roll with it -- it's all good. Cry, laugh, cry from laughing, dance, sing, wail, do whatever feels right to you. Mourn as you will.

Eventually, likely sooner rather than later if she has her way, my mother shall be interred next to him. Mom's parents were cremated and will be dumped in a beloved body of water that is significant to all of us, that they may swim with the fishes (their words not mine, though apropos).

I want to be cremated, and wish my ashes sprinkled in the Fairfax Cemetery -- the one by the courthouse in Fairfax, VA. My sister and her husband plan to be cremated; i should talk to them about what they want done with the ashes, deferring to my nephews as appropriate at the time.

Another nameless friend's father died some years ago. A Quaker (Friends) memorial service was held for him, as was fitting for him and his family and friends. A part of his family no longer talks to the family here because he was cremated and that is WRONG from their religious point of view, but c'est la vie. He was well-remembered, each got to have their say, it was solemn and respectful and among the most pleasant and lovely of all memorial services i have ever attended.

Fifth, last, and possible most important, it hurts when someone dies. Often hurts a lot. With time, the hurt gets less poignant, less stinging, less frequent, but it never goes away. It returns when you least expect it, blindsiding you, and there is but to embrace the memory/emotion, riding the wave and carrying on best you can til it passes. That may mean you need to take a break -- get some tea or coffe, go for a walk, find a quiet place and cry for a while, what ever. But take a break and own the emotion when it comes.

2012 makes 26 years since my father died. Writing a comment on Facebook left me all verklempt for a few, then i was laughing because my spellchecker knows not verklempt. I should bother to teach it. Heh.


dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)

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