February 16, 2009

Grave News

Buon giorno. Yes, I'm back and ready to rock. Nicky and Lela didn't let me down and kept the crew in line in my absence. Good thing, I didn't need to come back from my father's funeral and deal with extra stress. I didn't even have time to visit any of my Michigan goomahs while I was away!

I've talked about my feelings on funerals and memorial services in another post, so I'm not going to rehash that here. But what I will do is tell you how I deal with these things.

Don't hide from it
This is probably an extension of the Buddhist approach of facing your problems. What works for me (and I wish my surviving brother would try this instead of putting it out of his mind) is to face it head on. There were feelings to sort out and there was sorrow to face. There was regret because he didn't know me when I last saw him, and did not have a chance to see where my spiritual and mental development have taken me.

I'll admit to shedding tears, but I contained myself to keep the worst of it when I was alone. When I was actually at the funeral, it wasn't so bad for me. Back when my mother died a few years ago, someone wisely told me that sometimes things will creep up on me and set me off again, and that proved true. It was nice to know, and I won't be surprised when it happens again.

Talk about it
This is almost a "part B" to the first point. There were a few people that I could express some deep inner feelings with. Also, there were memories to share with friends and family members. I looked at the pictures and remembered things, and talked about them.

Don't be afraid of the humor
My father liked a good joke, and would have had a good laugh at the, uh, colorful ties that my brother and I wore; they were his ties! (In fact, I believe that he was there, watching.) Some of the pictures were reminders of some good times, and worth discussing. Other people were sharing memories of funny situations as well as meaningful events.

Here's some of the humor of the situation. My father (as well as my brother and mother) was cremated. My brother had the box with his remains so that we could take it to the military honors at the national cemetery. But my brother also had plans; he and his wife were leaving after the interment for a long-planned vacation. I helped them pack their car. My sister-in-law said, "Do you want to put Dad in the car?" So, I grabbed the box and stowed it next to their luggage; my father spent the night in the back of their car.

On that note, I was about to hang my clothes in the guest room closet and asked my brother if the closet was empty. "Yes. No! It is, but it isn't." It turns out that our brother was in the closet. Yep, his remains are going to be intered in April, and he's in a box in the closet. That first night in the guest room, I wondered if his spirit was going to "prank" me, but he's long gone and having a good time in Heaven.

Celebrate
Celebrate the life of the departed (unless the person was a total stronzo, then you can privately celebrate your own freedom). In my heart (yes, I do have one, despite what political opponents and my ex wife will tell you), I celebrated his release from this life and entry into Heaven, and the reunion with my mother, my brother, my father's brother and parents...

Keep the seriousness when it matters
That one is rather hard to explain. You can get too solemn and serious and bring everyone down, but you also have to clam up when someone just doesn't feel like easing off from the sorrow, capice? It's a meaningful time, and the overall attitude should be respectful.

I did some serious things, such as wearing his World War II dog tags at both services.

Listen, everyone has to do what works for them. I happen to believe in my approach. Thanks for reading.

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