When you attend a funeral as a guest, you return home to life, vigor, vitality. The immediate family heads home to a new life, a life with a massive void, a life that was not asked for, but handed to them. The immediate family, the widow returns home to a house that now has a new emptiness.
The day we buried my beloved Dad I remember the funeral director shaking my hand, offering his condolences and announcing, “and now comes the hard part.” He wasn’t kidding.
Life as it once was is forever changed. Laughter is now replaced with a sad silence. A chair is now empty. After my father passed I remember sitting in my parents home thinking, “Did the house become bigger????” There is an entire closet of clothes that are now without an owner. Countless medicines without a patient must now be disposed. The feeding pump that was once humming in the background is forever silenced. The walker is now folded and stored. All the gadgets hospice brought in for comfort now appear sad and lonely without an owner. Golf clubs patiently waiting for their owner to return home well again. Endless tools and unfinished projects in the garage that will remain incomplete.
So many beautiful memories, many are just too painful to remember. I feel physically ill as I remember the life we once had. I feel angry that my family was robbed. Many times I sit in restaurants and see women who appear to be my age out to dinner with her parents and turn green with envy. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help but think to myself, “This is not how our story was suppose to be. I miss my Dad!”
Time ticks on and our wounds barley have a scab over them. Life seems so empty. I call the house phone to hear my father’s voice, and sometimes hope this is just a nightmare and he will answer. Dreaded firsts come and go and with each one a tsunami sized wave of grief come crashing down. Many times it feels like someone is standing on my windpipe, I can barely catch my breath.
I can see my mother aging before my eyes. I feel helpless watching her grieve her soulmate. I am constantly thinkimg to myself, “If I hurt this bad, how is she surviving?” And with that thought fear and anxiety take over and I panic. I beg God to not take my mother too.
There are migraines, sweaty palms, stomachaches, tears, anger and frustration. Grief has now taken residence where my father once lived. I wonder how we are going to survive this loss. The pain is excruciating, the loss is more than I ever could have imagined.
When you attend a funeral you go home to life. The immediate family suffers a major loss. The widow faces a new reality, one that was not asked for. The real grieving begins after the funeral. Give the family more than sympathy, judgement and gossip. Give the family what you would want, give them compassion and kindness. Your act of kindness and grace could be that one act that is their life support when the waves of grief come crashing down.