Skip to main content

Death, Dying and all that stuff.


I am in the midst of dealing with my first funeral in my new job.  That means meeting with the family to plan the funeral mass, making sure they have what they need for the viewing and funeral, coordinating with the funeral home, etc.  I'm not being morbid when I say that I like doing this.  It is an honor to be with people at such a vulnerable time, and an honor that they allow you to be part of their lives in such an intimate way.

I am constantly amazed at how much I do NOT know, but I actually have learned a few things about death and dying in the past few years.

1.  There is no time-table on grief.  You might think you're "over it" (or someone tells you that you should be) and then grief reaches up and smacks you in the face.  You open a box of Christmas ornaments, and grief is lurking there.  You hear a laugh at a family part, and grief grabs you.  A piece of music nearly strangles you with grief.  There's no "done" with grief.

2.  We need the rituals of death and dying.  Yeah, it may be someone's last wish to be quietly cremated and have no service, but that doesn't do a darn thing for the living.  We need to be able to talk, walk, cry and wail with each other in order to put things in perspective.  Funerals aren't for the dying; they're for the living.

3.  It's okay to be mad at God.  I've yelled at Him about the death of a loved one.  I knew it wasn't His fault, but I needed to yell at someone, and He was available.  It's okay;  He understands.

4.  Students have told me, in the past,  "I don't know what to say" when talking about funerals.  I always tell them,  "It's okay;  NO ONE knows what to say."  You just show up.  Wasn't it Woody Allen who said that most of life was just showing up?

5.  On the other hand, there are things NOT to say:  "It's God's will".  "It's all God's plan".  That sort of thing means:  A. You are now God's official spokesperson.  B.  God wants people to grieve.  Yuck.

6.  God knows grief.  Intimately.  Think of how many people He has loved and lost.  That's grief.  Trust that He will be with you, and understands.

7.  It doesn't matter how many times or how many ways you go through it, grief is hard.  It may be the hardest thing we have to do as humans.  Let's hold each other's hands.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Trauma Mama

Dear Husband and I both enjoy certain medical shows, such as "ER" and "Code Black." ("St. Elsewhere" was another fave!) These shows revolve around trauma: humans who'd been ambushed by life: a car accident, a fire, and abuse, as examples.

More often than not, these shows also highlight the trauma the doctors and nurses needed to deal with. Having a patient die is always offensive to a doctor: they are charged with saving lives and losing one is the ultimate failure. Nurses spend more time with patients, and can forge strong bonds with people that may be in their lives for just a few days.

But trauma doesn't always look like a bloody body being wheeled into an emergency room, or a house surrounded by fire trucks and police cars. Trauma comes in many forms.

According to one website, trauma can look like surgery. It can look like moving. Trauma can be losing a beloved spouse or more horrifying, a child. Trauma can also be chronic pain, loneliness, m…

Be Brave

A few years ago, it came to my attention that a young family member was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was able to share with her a bit of my own struggles, and let her know she wasn't alone.

A few weeks after our talk, I saw the movie, "Brave." It struck me that the young protagonist, Merida, modeled a great quality. She was indeed brave.

Being brave is not about recklessness. It is not about confidence. It's not about being foolish, or looking for glory in the eyes of others.

Bravery is about doing what is right, even when you are a quivering mess. It's about knowing that things may not turn out the way you expected, but forging ahead anyway. Being brave is standing by the hospital bed while a loved one is dying, and all you really want to do is turn back time. Bravery is standing up to a bully, when your legs are screaming for you to run. Brave is doing what needs to be done even when you're scared and tired and feeling helpless and hopeless.

I …