In which I bear a casket

The wind is biting and the day sufficiently gloomy.

I arrive early at the funeral home with my family, as requested, and awkwardly stand around the casket before going to find some seats.

The rooms of the funeral home feel as though they were updated years ago, and then hurriedly aged again to maintain a transitionally stuffy atmosphere.

People stream in and pay their respects, presumably to the casket and the bereaved. We linger in a room set aside for the bereaved and do nothing much at all.

When the service finally starts I step in line with the rest of the pallbearers and form the honor guard. Each of the closest family members in turn tries, and fails, to cope while visiting the casket for the last time.

Once all such attempts have been abandoned, the lid closes with a muted finality.

Our duty apparently completed, we walk back to our seats for the service proper.

The eulogies then proceed, detailing the life and legacy of someone that deeply loved their family and those around them. A brief brush with casual racism slightly poisons but does not wholly corrupt the memory and respect the audience holds in the deceased.

Once the sermon is over, the pallbearers perform what I assume is the hallowed and sacred duty of moving the casket approximately 4 meters from the funeral home doorway to the hearse, and from the hearse to a cement container for the casket.

The words designated as final are said, and everyone in turn leaves to get some small sandwiches and finger food.

As everyone eats and talks in a small church basement, I can’t help reflecting on what I feel about this whole event.

And what continues to concern me is that I feel… Nothing, really.

It’s something I’ve experienced a bit of personal turmoil over. Is this normal? Aren’t I supposed to be repressing tears somehow? Am I just an unfeeling brute?

The recently deceased was a closely related family member, the kind of person I would see on a regular basis. They were also a family legend, the kind of person the next generation endlessly tells stories about. They were an upstanding member of the community. The kind of person everyone listened to at the meetings and organizations they participated in.

And yet… I personally feel no great sense of loss at their passing. I can see and feel the loss in others, but after an initial pang of loss, I feel no great hurt.

It has taken me a while to process the whole affair. With the events firmly in the rear-view mirror, however, I seem to be more cognizant of the cause of my feelings.

I realized that I didn’t feel any great sadness from the loss of our relationship, because there was nothing there to lose in the first place.

Though I saw them on a regular basis, it was always with other family members, and the visit was always done out a sense of duty more then anything else. The family legends and community acts that engendered such respect all took place before my time. They all happened in an age of antiquity with no real relation to the present state of the figures they depicted.

This realization has perhaps made me more melancholy then I was during the funeral itself, but I think it helps to have some more definitive closure on the events.

This post took a long time to write, but I’m glad I finally did.

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