It’s horrible when someone close to you dies. It’s just as terrible when the loved one of your loved one dies. To see the person in so much pain. To not really be able to do anything. To know that whatever you say will be pretty cliché. That you really can’t do anything different from the average person in that person’s life. Even though you’re their person. Their one person. It’s a helpless feeling. You can’t compare it to what they are feeling, but you feel like you’re grieving with them. It’s odd. And uncomfortable. And you keep wondering what you should do or say. How you could make them feel better, somehow. You want to fix everything. Make them smile. You them to know that the memories will last forever, and the time will come when they will be able to look back and smile and/or laugh. Memories won’t always bring tears.
You want to say so much, but can’t. You know that they’re being over-talked. You know that people are saying things to them all the time. Sending them messages all the time. The same things you would say. So you’re lost. You feel like what you do and say should be special. But WHAT?! There’s really nothing. All you can do is be there. Be present. Love them. Hold them. Wipe their tears. Listen to them when they want to talk. Talk to them when they want distraction. Hold their hand through it all. It’s so easy, but so hard, because you’re over-thinking it. All anyone really wants during a time of grief is room to grieve, however they choose to do it. Comfort when they need it. And knowing that someone is always there. And memories are always there. Always.
I find that funerals are good for closure. It’s hard to plan. It’s hard to get ready for. It’s hard to attend. But the funeral is where people say their final goodbyes, and really come to terms with it. There have only been a few deaths in my family. My grand-uncle (a stand-in father for me, and adopted father of my dad), my uncle (aunt’s husband), my grandfather, and my grandaunt. With all of them, I cried when I found out what happened. I cried for me, I cried for the future without them, I cried for the people close to them. I didn’t go on crying for days. I did have little moments. But most of the time, I was fine. It was at their funerals that I really, really cried. The grief and sorrow welled up and overflowed. Every sad face, every mention of their names, every fond story shared, every cry I heard around me, every hymn the church sang. They were drips into an already-full well, waiting to be emptied. I often wonder why people choose sad songs for funerals. The typical funeral songs that make people cry. Now, after a few funerals, I realize that we need to cry, a lot of times. A lot of people hold back for a long time for various reasons. Trying to be strong for others, busy with making arrangements, feeling to old to cry, feeling to manly to cry… Funeral hymns break all of that down. And people can release their loved ones into the universe. People can realize that they are out of the world, but not out of our hearts.
At my grandfather’s funeral, my dad asked the priest to sing How Great Thou Art, because it was one of my grandfather’s favourites. It’s not a typical funeral hymn, but I cried. That was when I really cried. We all did. To this day, when I hear that song, my eyes well up.