Occasionally I share when I’ve gotten past a challenge that appeared in the wake of grief and/or stroke. I think it’s important for those of us who have walked down the road to yell encouragement to those behind us –
So I must share with you two personal challenges I dealt with this past week.
I don’t do funerals unless it’s my responsibility to send the loved one off in style – I never really have, unless I intimately know the deceased’s family/friends. Why? Well, because I’ve always chosen to grieve in my own way and to me, showing up to the funeral is a way to show support to those left behind and let them know how well loved their special person was, rather than a part of my personal grieving process.
I’ll share my warts and intolerances now- it really chaps my bum for speakers at a funeral to be so torn up they can’t get through their portion of the services without loud outbursts and incoherent sobbing….
I know, I know – I’m a HardArse – but really – we only have one chance to do a funeral right, and over the years, the funerals I regretted attending the most were the ones who paraded a litany of ‘speakers’ past the podium who could barely squeak out two coherent words – To me, this does not honor the one that’s gone – My Own Opinion and you’re welcome to disagree with it if you want.
I commented on this once and a family member informed me that it’s “healing for others to experience the raw grief” – Maybe so, but for me, Raw Grief is dealt with in the privacy of one’s own home or in the loving circle of supportive friends- when you’re publicly honoring your loved one, you’d best have your act together or hire someone who does.
The family will remember the funeral – they may have videotaped it – this is not Comedy Central or Reality TV – it is their reminder of how they said goodbye to their loved one – it is not the time or place for Amateur Night
Okay – I’m done ranting – – Back to the original story….
After my period of losses in a short time frame happened, I was even LESS enthused about funerals. There were ones where I genuinely wanted to love & support the family – but I chose to do so through cooking, cash gifts and behind the scenes help. When asked, I wholeheartedly offered whatever I could, but begged for understanding that I just couldn’t attend the actual services…just not yet…
Funerals triggered too many unhealed portions of my soul….
Since my stroke drastically affected my speech pattern, AND since I still descend into Elmer Fuddism (yes, it’s a word, look it up) when overtired, ill or stressed, I have not done any public speaking since October of 2011.
Before my Chatty-Kathy ways were hobbled by Elmer Fudd, I eagerly offered to present training sessions, low/no cost classes and spoke at a variety of work and volunteer functions. I like public speaking – I once had the dream of earning my living that way. But when the stroke affected my speech, I dutifully put that all behind me and looked forward to a future that did not include me speaking in front of crowds.
I mourned the loss of this part of myself – stuffed those dreams into the memory box of my soul and moved on.
This past week, a friend of the family’s passed away – – at a young age- – – leaving behind three children.
This friend and his family have been there for me and mine in countless ways over the years, especially when my dad and son died, as well as when the rest of my world fell apart.
I hurried over as soon as I found out to see how I could serve.
The family asked if I would share the memories folks have of their loved one at the funeral, for those who couldn’t be there and those too torn up by grief or too introverted to do so themselves.
GULP – –
I said, “Yes – whatever you need – I’m here.”
But I came home and wondered if I should have said no…
When I was 9 or so, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my Dad’s voice. I crept out to the kitchen to see what was going on, as my Dad was leaving the next day for a distant state to perform the Masonic Funeral services for a Brother who had passed. He was often called upon to do this and I’d never really given any thought to why he was asked, or why he did so.
When I tiptoed in and asked who he was talking to, he told me he was practicing for the next day.
I wanted to know why and I’ve never forgotten what he told me:
“Sis, a funeral is the number one place where you can have the best intentions and motivations but still manage to put your foot in your mouth and wound those who are already hurt. If you’re to speak, it’s best to practice before you do so.”
After my own adult experiences with what folks say and do when trying to help you after the loss of a loved one, I know that not only was his observation correct, but a whole lot of people in this world didn’t have a Dad who shared this valuable information with them.
So this week, I attended a funeral for the first time in 5 years and made it out in pretty good shape.
For the first time in 2 1/2 years, I spoke before a large audience – no one thought me the village idiot and more importantly, I managed to do my part in a way that that was satisfactory to the family and other members of the community.
I personally think I escaped Elmer Fuddism, because I Ordered the Universe to make it all turn out right.
Ordering the Universe around is a dangerous thing, and I suggest you only do so when the stakes are high and in service to others – otherwise, it often backfires…
The Universe is kind enough to immediately respond when I deem something High Priority – I’ve always been grateful for that.
In reflecting upon this past week, I realized I had to tell you –
No matter what wounds you carry or what disabilities you’ve encountered – there is always a way to be the person you wish to be. It may take awhile or some ingenuity, but I believe it can always happen.
I may not know first-hand what you’re dealing with…
It may happen sooner or later than the 5 years it took me…
But if You Desire to do what you’ve deemed as Important, I have no doubt you’ll find the way –
Grace descends and blesses you when there’s work to be done and you know, in your heart, it’s your job to take care of.
Keep the Faith and Never Give Up Hope.