||[Nov. 23rd, 2005|11:00 pm]
My mood today has mostly been just really, really tired. Drained. Doing okay, but worn out.|
I went through my photos last night and found some old pictures of my dad. Found lots of other pictures, too. Greg and Jerry were all wonderful and patient and put up with me making them sit there with me as I waxed nostalgic. There were a couple rolls from the trip I took to South Africa with Dad and other family members several years ago. And a bunch from the time he took me to Japan in 9th grade. (My Dad travelled a LOT for work, and he would use frequent flier miles to take family members on trips.) I also found lots of pictures from high school, and a bunch of my Mom's side of the family, including a bunch with Harriet (my super-wonderful maternal grandmother, who passed away a few years ago; I miss her lots). It was nice. Remembering is good.
Today was the 'viewing' (or maybe 'visitation'?), which meant getting to see my Dad's body. I was expecting it to be rough, but it wasn't actually that bad. It's hard to describe. The body looked like him (except the color was really off), but it was clearly just his corpse, and not really him, if that makes any sense. I held his hand, and patted his shoulder and stuff, and I think that was important. Said I was going to miss him.
Aside: I feel like it's important to use straightforward words, like 'die' and 'body', instead of euphemisms, when talking about these things. I'm not sure why. I guess it just feels more... honest?
Most of what I did, though, was visiting with relatives. So maybe 'visitation' is the right word. We talked a lot, told lots of family stories. I brought along the pictures and everyone really enjoyed them. People mistook my Mom's baby pictures for me, and pictures of me in high school for pictures of my Dad, so I guess I know that I'm not secretly adopted or anything.
We're all doing okay. It's hit my grandmother really hard, but we're getting by.
When my dad died, my brother and I insisted on seeing the body. It's not really customary among Jews... we don't do the open-casket thing... so the body had been prepped in various ways one wouldn't normally see and had not been prepped in the ways one would normally expect. The cryptkeeper tried to talk us out of it, but we were having none of that.
I didn't really start crying until after that. It's not that I doubted his death, you understand, but seeing the corpse is what made it emotionally real. There's something very concrete about a dead body.
Strength and love, dude. You'll be fine.
Yeah, that's sort of what I was expecting to happen for me, too, but it didn't. It was kinda just another element in the whole picture.
Thanks. I'm mostly fine already. Just sad.
The body looked like him (except the color was really off), but it was clearly just his corpse, and not really him, if that makes any sense.
If you don't mind a comment from a stranger who occasionally reads your journal: I happen to agree with the belief that the body is just a shell -- so this statement makes perfect sense to me. It's also why I'm not all that into open-casket funerals. For my own mindset, it's beside the point. But I do realize it's useful for others in their greiving process. And if it helps them, that's great.
Also, my sympathies on your loss. It's something I'll likely go through myself within the next several years. I hope I can muster half as much grace when the time comes. Your thoughts have been interesting to read, and not unlike how I've reacted to deaths in my extended family.
I think it's important to use the proper terminology, myself. In our culture it is all too easy to let the euphemisms lull you into thinking somebody really hasn't died— and then when the realization hits you, the support system isn't around to help you through it. By using the proper terms, if it hits you while your friends and family are gathered for the funeral, at least you're all together.
At least, that's my theory.
I'm glad we were able to make it in time when Rob's father died, because though the experience was thoroughly surreal from my standpoint (it was this HUGE room in the hospital, and at least twenty family members came by at one point or another), it was far better to be on hand than to get it secondhand.
Anyways, keep on posting. A little vicarious "being there" is better than none, and as you know, we're horrible correspondents.
Funny, it just occurred to me that Rob's dad worked for the Post Office...
If you don't mind a comment from a stranger who occasionally reads your journal...
Not in the least!
Thanks for the kind thoughts. I'm glad to hear you've found these posts worth reading; I think that one of the reasons I've been able to deal with it with any composure is the good examples set by some of my LJ-friends who also lost parents recently, and I think I've felt the need to write about my father's death at least in part to try and give something back to the community that gives me such support.