Three weeks ago today, we lost my mom.
Three weeks seems like a lifetime.
Remember when you got married (those of you who have), it seemed that the #1 piece of advice given from just about anyone was some form of this: "Take a moment to soak it all in and enjoy your wedding."
On the complete opposite of the spectrum, I don't think anyone should be advised to take a moment and enjoy a funeral but I feel almost as if the same thought process might apply. I don't necessarily want to remember and focus on a sad moment in time, but there's something healing about being able to recall the visitation and the memorial service and saying goodbye.
That being said, as I've been reliving those days, some discrepancies have popped up in my head about how that time went by and I discovered a few things that I never realized about myself. These are more or less notes for future reference and maybe for others who have never had to attend a funeral from "loss" side of things
1. I pretty much hate the phrase, "Blah blah blah...sorry for your loss." First of all, my apologies to anyone reading this who actually did write or say those words to me. Secondly, I understand that it's incredibly difficult to even know what to say to someone so these words are easy to use, show remorse and could not in any way be offensive. I know that's why people use it and I think just acknowledging the family's "loss" is like a long-distance hug or handshake. I honestly didn't know I hated it until recently, really. Although I actually never use those words myself because they sound so cliche and robotic.
Anyhow, I'm just rambling now. These words just aren't for me.
2. Send plants not flowers. At my previous job, it was my responsibility to send a floral gift on behalf of the company whenever there was a death, birth, etc. regarding one of our associates. I had nothing against flowers, but especially when there was a death, we always sent a plant. Flowers die. Plants (if under the proper care) can live on for a while whether potted or planted. Now, having been the recipient of a myriad of flowers and plants in honor of my mom, I was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love just visible through the amount that were sent in. There were so many beautiful arrangements and any concern we had about the memorial service being decorated with displays were null and void.
What I did not expect was the aftermath of those beautiful arrangements. On the day we drove to the grave site, the funeral home brought along with us any sprays that were on stands or arrangements not in glass vases. They placed them around the canopy where we sat with my mother's coffin waiting to be lowered. Before we left, my sister-in-law and I took a few stems from the spray on the casket, we returned to the limos and drove off. When we arrived back at the church, what was left were all the plants and maybe two arrangements that we were able to choose from to take home. All those beautiful flowers stayed with my mom and perhaps that's the way it needed to be. Going forward, I realized that we'd been right all along at my old job to send plants and it's something I will continue to do myself. If I'm the only person to send a plant, at least I know the family will have one to take home, care for and keep as a reminder.
3. Honoring a funeral procession by slowing down and pulling your car over if you're driving actually feels incredibly meaningful. I will never not slow down for a funeral procession again. As we rode in the limo toward the grave site, I was deeply affected seeing other drivers pulling their cars over as we passed; even the vehicles driving in the opposite direction. It's difficult to articulate in words the appreciation I felt watching complete strangers honor our family by foregoing their own agenda just for a few seconds in order to pay some sense of respect. I have no ill will toward those that did not stop or couldn't, but it's a phenomenal practice that I hadn't always participated in. Only now do I realize just how important it might be to the family riding behind the tinted windows.
The husband and I brought home three plants. It wasn't until later that I discovered who sent the actual plants and I was pleasantly surprised that the ones we chose to keep were each given by a family or group of people that hold a very special place in my life. I don't have a natural green thumb, but I'm planning to do my best with what we have and cherish them for a long time.