So Ursula over at anupturnedsoul
“How do you do that? How do you respect the dead without disrespecting the living? I’m asking you personally for personal answers, personal experience perspectives, rather than for impersonal answers… impersonal answers I can find by Googling.”
I thought it a fitting topic for Dia de Muertos. It seems a simple enough question. Unfortunately, IMHO it’s too complex a question for a simple answer. It all depends on the life and relationship you had with the deceased BEFORE they became the deceased. I present a slightly different angle from the child of loving parents and a lovely (if somewhat normal) family.
I’ve gotta agree with Melanie on this one. My first and longest stage was anger.
A little background. I’m first born, only female child in a small family. I’m “Daddy’s girl” over, under, and through. My father died at the ripe old age of 51, I was 25 and a new mother. I was devastated. My big question wasn’t “how could this happen to such a wonderful father?” It was “how dare you go off and leave me on this stinking planet all alone?” Yeah, I know egotistical much?
Here’s my issue. I’m an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). Yes, that’s a real thing with an actual medical diagnosis. I freak out at crowds, loud music, scary movies and all manner of sensory overload. I’m also sensitive to every known inhalant, most soaps, etc. etc. Yeah, I’m THAT sensitive body and soul.
When Daddy passed, our family elected to do the whole “funeral” thing, with viewing, graveside service, wake after, etc., etc., etc. It was a nightmare. I spent most of the viewing in the ladies room vomiting, I fainted at the graveside. I was the absolute picture of “devastation.” But, I digress. Yes it was miserable for me, but no it wasn’t disrespectful because you see, it wasn’t about me. Or my father, or my brothers. It was all done for my Mother and I believe it helped her find some closure. She handled his death much better than I did.
Now, fast forward 20+ years. Mother passed away. She knew how my brothers and I feel about “funerals.” We’re all pretty intensely private people and are really not comfortable taking our emotions out and waving them around for the world to see. We’re better at fake smiles through the tears. All families have their dysfunctions and ours is no exception.
Our mother suffered from “Borderline Personality Disorder” and “Bipolar affective disorder”. Yeah, Mom was kind of fruit loops and she spent much of my teenage years institutionalized. But, (and this is a BIG but) I, and I’m pretty sure my brothers as well, always knew she loved us. Even when we didn’t believe it (and I’m afraid that was a LOT). Knowing our feelings about “burials” etc. she left specific instructions for a low cost cremation and then “burial” of the urn within my father’s grave. The cost of which was all covered by her small “burial insurance plan”.
So, we did exactly that, we held a brief memorial which was actually a wonderful celebration of her life. Most of us, myself, my remaining uncle and cousins, friends and family shared some of our best memories. It was filled with love and laughter and was fitting. Afterward, the funeral home handled the cremation and burial (no graveside service), no wake, no family food gathering, no receiving line for condolences etc. My brothers and I got together several times in the next few days to share memories, look at photos and discuss the estate. It was easy, it was beautiful and there was so much more love than loss.
So my advice if you want to respect the dead without disrespecting the living. Put your wishes down in black and white. Get a will. Take into consideration the personalities of your loved ones and give them the greatest gift you can leave behind. A fuss and muss free end of life service.
Mine includes the poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”
Til next time ~Peace ~JPP