I write these posts to start a dialogue, vent my frustrations and seek acceptance from the rest of the world hoping desperately everyone will love me. Forever. Amen.
One of the things I think that makes us human is how we react and interact when it comes to places and things that make us uncomfortable.
For me, one of those places is funeral homes.
Earlier this week, I decided, as a grown up, I needed to go to a visitation for one of my best friend’s Grandfathers who had recently passed away.
As a grown up, you take on these tasks because a) it’s the right thing to do, b) so someone, someday will return the favour and come to see you on your final visit and c) because doing things that scare us and make us a little uncomfortable is good for us.
Except I really don’t like funeral homes, dead bodies or know how to act around sad people.
While others find the experience a “celebration of life” or a beautiful way to gather, support and love each other, I feel as un-grown-up as a person can feel, out of my element and I almost always handle things terribly.
For starters, what should I wear?
I realize the t.v. shows of my childhood, from the late 70’s and 80’s had everyone in black hats with black, lace veils over their faces, several tissues balled up in their long black gloves, tasteful black skirt, lighter button down blouse with collar and a black blazer (with giant 70’s shoulder pads) bedazzled with a broach of a leaf with a small pearl on the stem.
Today’s uniform has been modified substantially. People wear jeans, not everyone wears a tie and I didn’t see a shoulder pad or lace face cover anywhere in the building.
When I tried on my first choice in dress, my Mother told me I should consider changing because (and she was right) I looked like I was going to a summer garden party on the beach. It was full of happy colours, a bright pattern and looked like a cheery, summer day.
This was a funeral, think sad clothes.
Instead, I went with something drab because my friend’s Grandfather would have wanted it that way?
Then when I arrived at the funeral home, I had no idea what kind of mood I was supposed to be in.
I’m generally a happy person with a positive outlook on life….right, life.
But I’m happy to see my friend and her wonderful family so my impulse is to smile and in my booming, outside voice, hug everyone and tell them how happy I am to see them.
Instead I keep my eyes on the burgundy carpet and barely make eye contact, forcing myself not to smile. I’m now scowling and dressed in ridiculous, mismatched dark clothes, palms sweating pretending I know who the people in the framed collage of pictures are from when they were between 2-7 years old and I’m wrong about each guess.
I compliment the beautiful flowers. Are you supposed to do that? The flowers are meant to be sad aren’t they? Or are they supposed to make a sad room a happy one? One of the bouquets reminded me of my first choice of dress. Maybe the flowers are supposed to be happy, but represent the only happy thing in the room and the dress would have flounced all over the message and meaning of the flowers.
Lastly, I know I’m supposed to start at one end of the family and make my way through the line but I almost always end up starting with the first person in the line and then joining the end of the line like I’m waiting to ride the roller coaster knowing the further down the row, the sadder it gets.
Several people walked into the visitation and I was the first person to greet them. Looking uncomfortable in my ill-fitting, colourless clothes, staring down, thinking sad thoughts, we had never met and I had no business standing with the family but I couldn’t force myself through the room and not say unthinkable happy things or think unthinkable happy thoughts.
Being a grown-up is the worst.