Pretty in Pink

My grandmother passed away in the arms of my aunt on Thursday Sept 10th. Bret worked some serious magic at work (by trading call and his clinic day) and was able to leave after 10am on Friday but had to be back at work Tuesday morning. While relieved that we could in fact go back to KS it also meant we had to fly since driving when the funeral was on Monday was not an option.

People wonder why we drive instead of fly. Besides the cost (it costs about twice as much to fly) we have pretty crummy luck with flying. Case in point it our flight was delayed out of Philly for 4 hours causing us to miss our connecting flight by less than five minutes (of course we ran about a mile with our suitcases and small children...well Bret ran with the suitcases and I walked very quickly as the children ran across the airport). So we got stuck overnight in Atlanta. UGH.

My grandmother had made her own funeral arrangements a few years ago. She had paid for and picked everything out for herself. She also left clear directions as to who was to be pallbearers, what songs, flowers, etc. It was nice to know that everything was as she wanted it to be. It was also nice that with such a large family there were no hard feelings because the choices she made were hers. Bret was surprised to be asked to be a pallbearer as was I.

One of the things that Bret and I had talked about was what to do with the kids. We decided to take them with us to both the rosary and funeral. Emily knew that Grandma Francy had died and understood what to expect. Both the rosary and funeral were closed casket however my aunt offered anyone who wanted to see GM the opportunity after the rosary and visitation were over. I knew that I wanted to see her and I really wanted Bret to be with me. Another close family member was very clear in that they did NOT want to see her and offered to watch my children in the back of the home in a different room when the casket was opened.

However, after several people saw GM and made comments about how good she looked the relative changed their mind. My kids were kind of left in the care of others (although not clearly told to "watch the kids") so of course they started running around playing. It only took a few moments for them to see GM. At first I was upset and really unsure of how seeing GM would affect Emily.

She went up to her and I stood closely behind her. Emily's comments broke my heart but in a good way. Emily said that Grandma Francy looked so pretty and that she was glad that she was wearing her favorite pink dress. She looked at me and I could see relief in her eyes as she told me that there was no blood and that Grandma Francy looked like she was sleeping very well. I was very surprised to her Emily mention blood and it wasn't until that moment that I realized that Emily's ideas of what happened or what she looked like were scary to her and that her seeing GM was a very good thing.

I read somewhere that death used to be all around. A close family member died in the home and was laid for visits in the home. Eventually that changed and it was moved into hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. This moved caused it to be more distant and distance causes less openness. Children are shielded from it which makes it scary. I am relieved that Emily's first experience with death has been OK. She cried at one point and told me that she was really going to miss hugging Grandma Francy because she was a really good hugger. I told Emily that I was going to miss that too but that it was OK to miss it and to talk about it. While our missing of her has only just begun I have a sense of piece that she is with my grandfather once again and with our Lord looking down on us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad for Emily, and for you, that her first real experience with this sort of thing went ok. I can't imagine how hard this is for you right now -- whether it's expected or not, it's still really hard. I don't have any great words to offer up -- just hang in there, hug those kiddos and hubby tight, and take all the time you need to reflect on days gone by with your grandma.