Yesterday we attended another funeral. My aunt, my father’s oldest surviving sister, passed away on Tuesday. It was only seven weeks ago that she attended my mother’s funeral, frail and old, but still very lucid and aware. Now, she too is gone, taken by death, unexpectedly, even though in many ways, it was expected.
I haven’t written very much about the grief experienced this past summer. It’s likely because my words just couldn’t do it justice, couldn’t accurately describe the emotions, the loss. How does one properly describe the feelings that flood in when the phone call to come home, quickly, is received; the intimacy of family gathered as a last breath is quietly drawn, holding our own breaths waiting for the chest to rise again; the touch of the still warm forehead under my hand of blessing, “The Lord bless you and keep you….”?
How does one describe the feelings of support from friends and family in the midst of trying to properly accompany, and honour, a loved one from death bed to a final resting place under towering maple trees?
How does one describe the reluctance felt as we appear to be entering into a season of funerals, a season of grief wrapped in the clothes of celebration, as both of my parent’s siblings age, each sorrowful gathering already anticipating the next.
Yesterday’s funeral tugged at the scab that has formed over my grief, exposed some of those bits not yet healed over, maybe never to be fully healed. While this experience was different it spawned memories of the same.
It is indescribable, really. Words typed on a screen can’t do more than describe the edges, always falling short of fully articulating the experience, failing to honour the subtle nuances of the time, the place, the person, the experience. It needs further wrestling, further work, so much so, that when you ask how we are doing we’re most likely to answer with an “I’m fine”, not because we necessarily are, but because we don’t know how to describe, in a way that you would really understand, how we really are.
We know we are not without hope, but even with hope, loss is is still keenly felt.