Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grieving

When I was maybe 8 or 9 my dad worked with this older man, Fred. Fred was that old man who always had funny stories to tell and magic tricks to show every time I saw him. He and his wife would have my dad and I over for dinner and they would come over to our house. They were good people.

One day my dad came home from work and told me that Fred's wife died. Naturally, I was upset and started to cry. I remember thinking about how sad Fred must be losing his wife. He asked me if I wanted to go to her funeral. I had never been to a funeral before but I said yes. Shortly after we got to the funeral, we ran into Fred. He was smiling and laughing and telling jokes, being the same old Fred that I had seen many times before.

I didn't understand why he wasn't sad. I was actually mad that he wasn't sad. I asked my dad why Fred wasn't crying and he explained to me that people grieve differently. He said that even though Fred wasn't showing it on the outside, inside he was truly hurting.

Being so young it was a hard concept for me to grasp. And to be honest, even as an adult, sometimes it's hard for me to understand. Last night was a perfect example. Joe and I went to the viewing of his cousin's husband. I had never met his cousin, her husband or their 2 adult daughters.

We had just arrived to the funeral home and were signing the guest book when Joe said, "April, this is MaryAnn." I shook her hand and she congratulated us on our engagement and then made some jokes. She was smiling and laughing and was quite composed. When we walked away I asked, "Who was she?" He said, "That's my cousin whose husband died." I was blown away. If I had just lost my high school sweetheart and husband of 35 years, I don't know if I'd be so composed. Shit, I wouldn't be that composed if my dog had just died.

Then I met their 2 daughters. Both of them were smiling and nonchalantly talking as if they were at a get together, not their dad's funeral. If Joe hadn't told me that it was their dad who just died, I never would've guessed. Then we walked through the rest of the funeral home and I didn't see one tear. Not one person was crying or even had a look of being upset. I turned to Joe and said, "This is really weird. Everyone's happy and smiling. There's not one person who is crying." He said, "This is how our family is at funerals." I've been to several viewings and maybe not everyone was crying, but there were definitely several.

We made our way to the casket. I saw him laying there and I could feel tears welling up. I had to turn away because I didn't want to be the only asshole in the room crying. Especially since I'd never even met the guy before.

The whole experience was somewhat surreal to me. At the same time, that's how I'd like for people to be at my funeral. I don't want everyone to be sad and crying. I'd rather them get together, remember the good times and be happy.

Deep Throat of the Day: Yellow ribbons will be handed out at my funeral, 'cause you know, ribbons are the shit.

6 comments:

Hubman said...

I remember when my grandma died about 3 yrs ago, I never saw my dad cry. I think he did his grieving in private- I wonder if that's true for a many people?

Andrea said...

Some people deal with grief via humor to avoid being mired in the sadness of it all. It's just easier. Doesn't mean we're not sad, but for some of us, it kinda means that we loved them and respect them and how short life is and we choose to live it. Doesn't mean there's no grief. Or even prolonged grieving. It just means it's being handled differently.

My favorite uncle's funeral was more like a family get together. The Blue's Brothers soundtrack was played, people shared their favorite stories of Richard, and we laughed and was full of life. Which is exactly what Richard was before the leukemia took him and what he would have wanted us to do.

Southern Sage said...

I have buried both of my folks and I didn't cry public or private. I had excellent relationships with both of them but never was compelled to cry. The downside of living is having folks you know and love die. It is a fact of life and it is going to happen like it or not.

I reckon everyone is different. The bride cries when a TV character "dies" on the program.

Kira said...

One possibility: they are in shock and will not grieve until it sinks in. I saw that with my grandfather's death and my family. The crying was done a good two weeks after the funeral when we realized he wasn't coming back.

Second possiblity: they prepped themselves for the funeral, wanting it to be a happy occasion. The term that I know of that is similar is an Irish Wake. I want an Irish Wake when I die. Folks will sit around and drink lots and lots of alcohol, talking about how awesome I am. Yup. That's what I want when I die: Irish Wake :)

Joker_SATX said...

My mom has Alzheimer's. My dad told me that he will actually be relieved when she goes because he feels that she is suffering right now. She has forgotten how to speak so to be able to vocalize all the different emotions must be tough for her. He has told me many times that there is something to be said about euthanasia.

Randi said...

OK - stop grieving and start blogging again. xoxo