Today was the funeral. I knew it would be a really hard day and it was. I knew it would be a really exhausting day and it was. But I had no idea how nice it would be to see people or how many people would come. I am fairly sure there were about 200 people there. One of the women of the church came up to me and told me it was the largest number of people she had seen at a funeral during her time there. I couldn’t believe the faces that I saw – my mom never realized how many people’s lives she touched. She didn’t just pass in and out of lives either, she made connections. How is this possible? My mom’s best friend and I were talking about it after and neither of us know how she did it but her impact was solid.
Here is my guide to survive a funeral that is really going to kick you in the arse:
Dye your hair a shade darker than normal the night before
My dad and I stopped at the store last night. I asked his opinion on a hair color since the brand that best matches my shade wasn’t available. Note to self: 1) colors look different in terrible grocery store lighting 2) don’t ask someone who is fairly preoccupied! This morning I realized it was pretty dark. So of course I was a bit self-conscious but at least it allowed me to fret over something totally not important. My brain, heart and soul needed the vacation.
Write and say the eulogy
I knew I wanted to speak and talked to my brother and sister to make sure they were okay with it. They both said yes. It was HARD. Not writing it – in fact there was plenty of amazing things to say about my mother. Instead, it was hard to put it into a structure that made sense (I swear I think in sentence fragments). Then of course the whole delivery. So, knowing you have to get up and speak in front of 200 people and do one of the most important “speeches” of your entire life does help cut into the grief.
Embrace a bit of the anger
One of my best and oldest friends came to the funeral and her mom came with her. Her mom told me after that she hoped I wouldn’t become bitter and angry. Ummm… perhaps a bit too late. Both my brother and I talked about how we kept seeing many elderly people at the funeral and the thought did enter our minds, “why my mom and not them?!” Mom was only 54. When I was out Christmas shopping the day after I found out (yes, at that moment Christmas presents were VERY important) I saw all of these happy people and I wanted to yell at them, “Stop being so happy! My mom died!” All of us kids have talked about how we don’t want to be angry people and of course we don’t wish ill-will towards others. Nevertheless, right now it helps to feel the anger so a) I can feel something/anything, b) I don’t end up a sobbing mess 15 hours a day and c) I actually shower and dress – yes, jammie pants do count as getting dressed as long as I wear “real” pants at some point during the day.
So those are my three tips. The funeral was beautiful. The priest did an incredible job with the homily and I really appreciated everything he had to say. There are more cards than I can count and more flowers have arrived. People kept coming up and telling stories/memories about my mom – it was uplifting. My mom would sometimes say she lived a “little life”. I would get frustrated and tell her she didn’t – she had an impact! But again, she couldn’t see it. Today, I wanted to say, “I TOLD YOU SO!” In fact, I did.