Just over a week ago our friends experienced the death of their precious son. Our family was so deeply saddened.
This blog is about the conversation that took place between my husband and I when we discussed attending the funeral of this cherished boy and the realizations that came from our own journey with grief:
I checked the website of the funeral home daily looking for information about the funeral service after learning that N had died. When the information was posted I called Landy to let him know. He said we could talk about it when he got home and I knew it would be hard for him to attend.
Looking back now I realize how anxious I had become by the time we discussed the funeral but at the time I didn't recognize it.
"Are you coming to the funeral with me tomorrow?"
"No I don't think so."
"What! Why not? I cannot believe you. It is important that we show our support to R and K. Why aren't you coming?"
"I am sorry, I just can't."
"Great, so you are so busy at work that you cannot take time out to show our friends you care? I don't know what to say."
"I am sorry."
Our evening ended with us both feeling hurt and disappointed.
On the day of the funeral, I stared blankly into my closet. I had no idea what to wear. The only thing I could think of was the outfit that I wore at Flynn's funeral; an outfit I borrowed from R. I thought about our friends and could not imagine the pain this day would bring them.
Driving to the funeral home I realized that I had to walk in alone, I would not know anyone. I have gone to visitations and funerals alone before, I wasn't sure why this felt different. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes and tried to mentally prepare for this service. How do you prepare for the funeral of an eleven year old?
The chapel was full, more than full and I sat watching the video slide show of a short beloved life. I could not take my eyes off of it for fear of seeing the room full of tears, feeling my own heart congested with sadness for this family. The three pews for the family sat empty for ten minutes maybe more after the service had begun and I thought it must be so tough to come into this room. I began to realize that my anxiety was rising, I was feeling suffocated and strangely nauseous. I wasn't sure if it was the crowded room or the emotionality of this congregation of grievers. Then it hit me, I have not been to a child's funeral since my son died and I am here alone ~ I don't know how to do this alone.
I left right after the service. I turned the radio off in the car and drove in silence to the reception. What was going on inside of me? I was feeling abandoned and angry. Why was I reacting so strongly? Landy had his reasons for not coming; it is not my place to force him, right? I am not a Grief Pusher. Anyway, I had tried to force him through guilt and it had not worked (I am not perfect). But I had told him to come for our friends and that was not what I needed. There it was, the truth. I needed him to be there with me because this was hard and I did not want to do it alone. Instead I told him that he had let down our friends.
When Landy got home he asked about R and K, I know he felt heartbroken for them too.
I told him how I felt at the funeral and on my way to the reception. I shared with him my insight and the realization that I had not told him what I needed.
"I would have been there if I would have known you needed me to be. I feel foolish that I didn't realize that. It was really hard for me to be there too and maybe that is why I couldn't go."
"I know. I wish I could have been more honest with myself. "