Today, we drove back from our four night mini-moon to attend the funeral of one of Jared’s aunts, Aunty Deb. She’d been sick for awhile and had just received a heart transplant but there were complications and she ended up passing away on Monday. We got the news as we were on the way home two days after our wedding.
Over the last few years, I’ve been to a few funerals for Jared’s family. His uncle passed away about two years ago. Then last year his grandfather had a series of strokes that eventually lead to his death in late October/early November. We watched him deteriorate just that little bit more each time. He was a wonderful man, someone I loved and admired much more than my own grandfather, and it was heartbreaking to watch him go from someone so strong to someone so dependent on others. On the day he died, we were on our way down to see him but got a text message saying he’d passed when we were just 30mins away.
Jared is/was very close to his maternal grandparents (he lived with them for awhile as a child) and it hit him very hard. Aside from not getting to say goodbye, I know he’d wanted his grandfather to be alive when he proposed to me and to be there on our wedding day. Sadly, his grandmother also couldn’t make it to the wedding as it was too far for her to travel. His poor grandmother has seen two of her children and her husband of 65 years pass away in such a short time. Sometimes I think the only thing that keeps her so strong is that she needs to care for her disabled daughter who still lives with her.
While I had only met Aunty Deb a few times over the years, she was always pleasant and friendly and was one of Jared’s extended family members that we saw most often as she lived in our area so we’d sometimes run into her. The service was held in a church and was hugely religious (as was Jared’s grandfather’s and uncle’s). I’m not religious at all so, during the formal readings and bible passages, I found myself feeling a bit awash in words that didn’t really make me feel anything. I stood up and sat down when told and was respectful throughout yet, even if the formalities themselves didn’t touch me, the emotion and sadness in the room was palpable.
For me, the tough moments always come during the eulogies when you get a feel for the person’s life and what they meant to the people they’ve left behind. Deb was a nurse and one of her nursing colleagues spoke about her dedication to her job and refusal to take time off, even up to the day before her heart surgery. Her son broke down during his speech and had to be comforted by his sister and Jared’s mum. He eventually recovered and delivered such a touching and lightly humorous remembrance of his mother that very few people were left dry-eyed (myself included). Back at the wake, we watched a photo slideshow of Deb’s life – her youth and her with her children and her grandchildren.
There were a few moments where I cried or struggled to hold back tears throughout the day. I even cried at his uncle’s funeral – a man I’d never met. It’s hard not to cry at these things. To see your partner cry, to see his family in pain, to imagine how it would feel if it were your grandparent, uncle, aunt, sister, cousin, mother, whatever – it would take a heart of stone to remain completely unmoved.
And yet for me, the religious part was the only time I felt cold. I know it’s a very personal thing and no one can tell someone else what they should or shouldn’t believe; we all use what we can to get through the day. I came from a very religious upbringing (my mum is still very religious) so I understand the peace you can get from believing in a higher power, someone benevolent watching over you and something better to look forward to when you eventually die.
I believe we just stop existing, which, to me, is not a terrible thing. It just means I need to live the best life I can now because this is it and I don’t think I’m going to carry on and meet anyone in any kind of afterlife (and even if there was, let’s be honest, I’m probably headed down, not up 😉 all the ‘good’ people will be anyways). But I can certainly understand the appeal of this life not being the end and having the chance to be reunited with everyone we’ve loved and lost. It’s just not something I can subscribe to.
Funerals always make me think about these types of things. I looked at the program with all the bible quotes and thought – what will they do for me? It will just have to be quotes from books and poetry and stories of my life, the things I’ve done and how people will remember me. That doesn’t sound so bad. Not that I’m planning on dying soon but we all do eventually, don’t we? Which reminds me, I don’t have a will.
Sorry for being so morbid today, guys. Things will be better tomorrow (I think).