Posted by: chlost | October 22, 2010

Loss and Love

It has been a long week. I am ready for the weekend, even though the weekend will be busy as well.

A friend has been going through a very difficult time. I have never met her, but feel as though I know her quite well. It has been hard to watch from here as she struggles with many of the same issues of grief that still feel very raw for me.

It has now been just over 8 months since my sister’s death, and 4 months since my husband’s aunt’s death. Death seems to be piercing the lives of many people I know. I am finding that it is more difficult to watch someone else handle their grief than it is to go through it personally. It is a very helpless feeling to observe the overwhelming tumult of emotions which transform a person when they have lost a loved one.

Although I am not a particularly religious person, and not at all fond of organized religion, I do feel that a memorial service or funeral is an important part of the recovery process for the survivors of a loss. It allows family and friends to surround the survivors with emotional support, and sometimes even the physical support of meals and chores. The service itself allows all to share the memories of the loved one. We found that my sister’s friends loved hearing some of the family stories that they did not know. A eulogy can summarize the life story and the accomplishments of the loved one. Everyone has a chance to nod together thinking, “yes, she was quite special, wasn’t she?”

Even after eight months, there are times that I become so angry with the priest who handled my sister’s funeral, that I feel like screaming. Now I hear of another person hurt by the actions of a “professional” handling a funeral. I have never used this acronym before, but it truly is the only appropriate one—-WTF?  We counted on being able to mourn the loss of our family member but instead were left feeling cheated by the funeral itself. It made the loss even worse.

The stronger the love, the more difficult the loss. I guess it should be taken as a gift that we suffer so at the loss of a loved one. It is proof of the depth of our love and the meaning of our life.

It will get better.

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Responses

  1. At my mother-and-law’s funeral, her fundamentalist granddaughter interrupted the service and challenged the minister to clarify his statement. Her memorial service was being held in a Baptist church, but large segments of the community came to pay their respects. In attendance were people of all faiths including her daughter (my wife), me and several friends who are Atheists.

    This young woman’s delusion that her version of belief was the only true and correct one needed to remain silent in her disturbed little brain. We were there to remember the matriarch of the family who we all loved and who was now gone.

    I guess people assume the Atheists will stay home and therefore everyone at a service for a deceased friend or family number contains only believers. But love and remembrance are not the sole domain of the religious.

    • I think your story wins the award for worst funeral service ever. Holy crap (no pun intended).

  2. My childhood was marked by death, and I sympathize with your anger and frustration over how the service can impinge on the mourners’ pain.

    Your friend — and you — have my best wishes during this time.

    Pearl

    • At least the losses that I have had happened when I was an adult. I am so sorry to know that you had losses as a child. That would be very hard to heal. Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. I feel the same way. It is very hard to read the struggles of a friend thousands of miles away that you cannot personally comfort. It is very frustrating to have an emotional attachement to someone and then feel powerless to help them when they need the support of their friends the most. You seem to be coping very well with your own losses this past year though I am sure that you still have many times when you are overcome with grief and the feeling of loss. You said it well….it does get better….very slowly…but it does..

    • I think we are on the same wavelength.

  4. I am so dreadfully sorry to hear of the pain caused to you and your family at your sister’s funeral. A funeral is so catalyzing anyway, that any emotions raised need to be ones that lead to catharsis not regret, hurt or anger.

    • When bad things happen at a hard time, it just make is so much the worse.

  5. Religious people can be such idiots, and I am a religious person, although people such as the woman Robert described would deny my claim.

    Funerals are there for mourners. I don’t know what is wrong with clergy who cannot understand such a simple concept. It’s not about them and their beliefs, it’s about providing a context in which mourners are free to mourn, no matter what anyone believes or doesn’t believe. IMO, when someone dies, all of that is a load of BS anyway. It just doesn’t matter. And reality is it doesn’t matter the rest of the time either.

    I am truly sorry for what happened at your sister’s funeral. My own sister’s was terrible as well, because of my father. When so many friends showed up at my house the day she was buried to say kaddish with me, I started to cry like you would not believe. With them I could mourn; it was the best gift they could give me ever. My sister had married a Lutheran and joined his religion, but none of my friends cared about that. She was my sister and she was dead. That’s all that mattered.

    The last time I saw my father was at my sister’s funeral; he died less than 2 years later. I had had enough of him and his religion that could not even be set aside long enough for us to bury a daughter and sister. Just as well. After he died I saw that he had collected materials about how my way of living a religious life was wrong and his was right. I was glad I could just gather them up and toss them out, just as easily as he had tossed me out.

    • As I was raised Lutheran, I can see how things may have been on that side of the family. Although the differences among the different Lutheran denominations is more vast than between many other completely different faiths. How hard to have to feel so badly about a parent-one of the people in your life who should accept you as you are. I’m sorry that you had to go through so much, I can see why religion has been a defining issue in your life.


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