Funerals…

Funerals…

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…are not only important for the dead, but for the living as well in my opinion. What happended yesterday confirmed this.

I started my day early, because I wanted to walk the dogs before the funeral. I didn’t feel well and had panic attacs. Of course the dogs noticed this: Janet kept her distance, and Sam tried to keep everyone away from us by barking loudly. At least the sun fought her way through the clouds (picture above), and we were lucky where the weather was concerned.

Then I hopped on a bus to meet my parents, we wanted to go the cemetery together. At the funeral parlour we were greeted by my cousin, who of course was very upset. Inside the funeral parlour we hugged my aunt – to see this happy and upbeat woman so sad was hurting me.

My uncle was Protestant, but he hadn’t been active in a parish. So a neutral funeral speaker led the ceremony.

I have not been close to my uncle, but I am a daughter and a wife. So I understand the grief my aunt and my cousin feel. The speaker talked about my uncle with compassion and a bit of humor, and I started to cry. I always knew my uncle would have done everything for his wife and his daugher – this is why I didn’t unterstand it when he completely shut us off from his life thirty years ago. My teenage self was really distraught and asked herself if she wasn’t worthy of her uncle’s love. My teenage self also couldn’t comprehend why her uncle hurt her mother so much. My teenage self never cried, but yesterday I could mourn. This was very liberating, my heart flew open and I finally let go of the past.

Walking behind my uncle’s coffin to the grave was  hard, because this was really his last way on this earth. The funeral speaker said the traditional phrase “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” and encouraged us to have a last talk with him, if we wanted to. Everyone had been handed a white rose earlier at the funeral parlour to lay down on the coffin, and then each of us had a few final moments with my uncle. I told him to “Have a save journey” and imagined his mother and his stepbrother welcoming him warmly on the other side. The funeral speaker then suggested all of us say the Lord’s Prayer; and I think praying together comforted everyone.

After that we went to a restaurant my uncle liked very much. My aunt’s mood changed from relief to love to grief to horror. Horror because some very disturbing things had happened in the hospital before my uncle’s death. We just listened, and this was what my aunt needed. But the atmosphere wasn’t gloomy all the time, we talked about other things and laughed as well. When we left, nobody was crying anymore and everybody felt comforted. Exactly the way it should be!

I was very relieved when I was home again in the evening. Sam greeted me at the door, my husband was home from his his first working day after his holiday, Janet gave me one of her soulfoul gazes from the couch, and the cat wanted to be fed. Everything was alright.

Today I am still a little bit confused and torn between laughing and crying. But I am also proud of myself that I have faced my feelings yesterday, that I paid last honors to my uncle and that maybe I helped a little bit those mourning him.

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Life and death…

Life and death…

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…are very close in my family this Christmas. There was the death of my uncle on the one side, and meeting with my parents and the fact that Christmas reminds us of Christ’s birth on the other side. My mother was a little bit sad, but mostly she was relieved her brother does not have to suffer anymore. We had a glass of prosecco before the meal and toasted to the living and the dead.

The relationship we had with my uncle’s family was very complicated at times. For years there was no contact, and we still don’t know why. When we went to bed, I felt like I was stuck at that time. I was a teenager back then, and I felt hurt and irritated on one hand, and I saw how much my mother suffered on the other hand. When we started talking again, it never was the same for me again.

On Christmas Day my self pity was over, and I thought how terrible my aunt and my cousin must feel: A woman lost her husband of more than fifty years… A daughter has to live without her father from now on. THAT is bad.

I asked my mother for my cousin’s mobile phone number, we know my aunt can’t deal with this right now.

Then I spent two hours thinking about what to write (I hate platitudes). Finally I gave up and texted that I was at a loss for words, and that our thoughts are with them. My cousin replied quickly, thanked me and said, she will let us know when the funeral takes place as soon as they know the details.

And then something strange happened: I remembered all the good moments before our families parted ways for many years. How I played with my cousin at a lake near their home, how my aunt’s mother read to us, how we went horseback riding together. And I started to smile, not everything was bad after all. My anger disappeared, and I felt more at peace.

I am dreading the funeral ceremony, because this will bring up lots of feelings again, but I try not to think about it too much right now.

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Christmaschaos

Christmaschaos

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Christmas is almost here, and with each passing day I am feeling worse. I am angry with myself.

I spent a great deal of this year working on my issues concerning involuntary childlessness, which were triggered by the pregnancy of my sister-in-law. But to be honest, I am still not ready to spend Christmas with the in-laws.

My biggest fear is pushing myself too far and undoing months of hard work in therapy. When I told my psychiatrist and therapist about this, both told me this is a possibility, and that I should be very careful.

Today is the 18th anniversary of my grandmother’s death. She died of cancer in the same year I was diagnosed with melanoma. I will never forget our last meeting, in which she looked already very ill.

When I talked to my mother earlier today, she told me my uncle (her brother) died yesterday. He had been ill for a long time, and his health had been worsening for months. We weren’t that close, but it hurts nonetheless. I am very grateful he left this world in peace, and that he was loved and taken care of by his wife and his daughter until the very end. And I am grateful that my mother copes quite well for now: Of course she is sad, but she is also relieved that her brother doesn’t suffer anymore, and that the two of them had a good relationship for the last decade (what wasn’t always the case).

But nevertheless we will gather together tomorrow and celebrate life.

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