If you’ve read this blog before (or if we’ve chatted in the last few months), you know that my father died a few months ago. In some ways, I feel like it’s all I ever talk about, but in other ways, I know I haven’t grieved it nearly enough.
Something that keeps capturing my attention during this coronacrisis are the conversations about funerals and how people aren’t able to properly mourn their loved ones in the way they would have liked.
There aren’t many things about death that I consider myself an expert on, but in this I feel as though I have attained a level of mastery.
I’ve been told my father died November 30, 2019. I found out about it the day after it happened through a phone call from his wife. He apparently didn’t want a funeral or a service of any kind. Nary an obituary exists, except for the one I wrote so that I could grow comfortable with my own grieving.
The day his wife told me he died, I’d asked her for a little bit of his ashes so I could have something of him to remember him by. Those ashes never came and she has yet to respond to any communication from anyone about their whereabouts.
I’ve not yet been able to find a death certificate nor a death notice of any kind, so I’m left in constant wonder if this was all a nightmare or if he moved out of this world as quietly as he came into it.
Mourning and grieving a man whom I had a complicated relationship was tough. I knew I needed to acknowledge that he was completely gone from my life now. I knew I needed to fully grieve the fact that I’d never get another chance to say goodbye or to hug him and tell him I loved him.
I’ve studied grief enough to know that I needed a talisman of some kind to stand in for the ashes I would never receive. Then, in looking through the hope-chest I’ve had since high school, buried underneath the sticker he gave me the day I graduated from high school (the one that got me featured in our local paper because of its 1994-level sassiness), I found what I needed to remember him by: his high school class ring.
My ex-husband’s family had a profound way of honoring those that had died. They placed a container of the ashes of their loved one in a spot where said person could always be memorialized. I have fond memories of my former father-in-law’s ashes sitting in a silver container on every mantle in every home we had. I may not love my ex-husband anymore, but I’ve always loved this idea.
When my beloved PuppyCat died last year, I put his ashes on the table that I now call my sacred table. An angel figurine my mother had given me sits above the ashes as a way to calm my grieving mind and to remember that there are angels in heaven watching over me. When I found the class ring, I realized that would be the ashes I’d likely never receive.
I found a way to memorialize my father in way that has given me comfort when I’ve needed it most.
My heart hurts for all of those who are dealing with grief right now. I have moderate to severe anxiety that I’ll lose another parent before this pandemic disappears, but I try not to dwell on that too much right now.
For now, I try to sit in silence at least once a day and marvel that I’m lucky enough to have angels watching over me.