I still remember the first funeral I attended. Not because of how horrific or tragic it was but because I was six and didn’t get it. Also, the person who had passed was cremated so it wasn’t quite as eye opening as most are. That and the fact that, even though they were family, I didn’t know the person that well so I guess that played a part as well in not really “getting it”.
I remember me and my cousins sitting up towards the front of the memorial ceremony and laughing, not about anything specific but more so just because that’s what we did,laugh when we weren’t supposed to. Those are the only two things I really remember from that funeral. Laughing and not getting it.
The second funeral I ever attended was far different, I was twelve, I got it and I certainly wasn’t laughing. It hurt. It was a hurt I hadn’t met yet. To stare at someone who you can’t even recall raising his voice to you in the twelve years you spent on the earth, as they lay still in a casket is a feeling you don’t forget. I carried it with me for a little bit but realized that he was older and had lived a pretty decent life so I was therefore able to understand that was just kind of the natural order of things and there was nothing I nor anyone else could do about it so I might as well find a way to make my peace with it.
I don’t want to talk about each and every funeral I attended after that or how I dealt with every death I had to face after that. It would feel too much like dwelling or selling sorrow and that is certainly not my intention. Just know that every funeral after that one seemed to come quicker then I could finish going to the one before it. Each one got more painful. Each one closer to home. Each cause of death worse, each person passing at a younger age. Each one staying with me a little bit longer and making me just a little bit more angry and hurt. After each one I attended,I sat at the bar a little bit longer. Until eventually I let other people’s death’s stop me from having a life. At least a happy one.
Then something changed. I became numb to it all. I could put on the sad face at a viewing and say what I was supposed to to whom I was supposed to but rarely would I feel it. I preferred it that way. It was so much easier. Death became a prerequisite to the bar after. I was in no mood to genuinely mourn your death so I just drank over it instead. It’s also worth mentioning that from ages 13–27 there seemed to be no shortages of funerals to attend and from about 17–27 no shortages of Irish wakes to attend after. I let all of this as well as everything else life throws at you take my life from me.
Then something changed again. The deaths didn’t stop happening though. My perspective on them and everything else around me changed. As hard and as fucked up as each one is and has been, I’ve found my own way of learning to accept it as a part of life. I hate funerals. I’d love to say i’m never attending another but that’s not reality. People are going to die and i’m going to be there for other people. People I really care about are going to die and then people are going to be there for me. For me to not show to funerals simply because I don’t like them is me neglecting to hold up my end of that give and take. I guess my real reason for writing this entire thing is I did that last week and I feel a little guilty about it. Although I don’t owe anyone including the deceased a formal apology, I’d like to acknowledge that I wish I had went and paid my respects because those are the things i’m fully capable of staring in the face today and actually feeling, when I’m not busy being self centered and doing whatever it was I was doing during the viewing I wish I had attended.
Also,please understand I am not taking any sort of position on the way anyone chooses to deal with death. It’s a truly terrible and tragic thing to have to face and we all deal with it how we deal with it. There is no right or wrong. No black or white. Apart of dealing with death is accepting the way other people deal with death, within reason anyhow. I’m not even offering a better way to deal with it. I’m not in possession of those sort of answers and wouldn’t pretend to be.
Thanks for reading