Today I went to my Uncle’s funeral. I spent more time in the car than anything else. I had some straight talk with the girls about where I was going, what I was doing today. I got some questions that I never seem to be able to predict. Those conversations are difficult, but getting less so. My skin is getting thicker.
It’s a funny thing going to your uncles’ funeral as a widow. It feels as though everyone is expecting you to either completely fall apart confronted with another death, or else to know the right thing to say. (Maybe this is only in my head and neither of these are true.)
It was an open casket, and when I went to pay my respects I wished my Uncle luck. I told him “there are a lot of good people waiting for you on the other side.” One moment I found myself with two of my cousins, who have each had their own significant losses (mother and daughter) so I repeated the sentiment and they agreed. I did not have much time with my Aunt – the newest member of the widow club. The only thought that crossed my mind was to welcome her to the club no one ever wanted to join… but I didn’t say it. I’m not sure I really said anything.
I know people spend a lot of time worrying they will say the wrong thing to me. I won’t say there is no wrong thing, because that’s just not true. Plenty of people have said plenty of “wrong” things to me. But I forgive them. I appreciate that they tried to say anything at all. I appreciate that they showed up. When I look back on the last year, what I appreciate the most is the myriad of ways that people showed up for me. (And keep doing so.)
My sister, who is probably the poster child for showing up for me, questioned my taking the trip for the funeral today. It came from a place of love, and big sisterly protection. But for me, if there was a way for me to swing it, I wanted to be there. I may not have words for my Aunt, but I wanted to try to show up. I was glad I could do that today. Even if it was the only thing I really had to offer. Grief is tricky. It is unique. And sometimes all you can do is sit in the sadness with someone. Don’t look away from its ugliness, but simply be in it. Acknowledge the love and the loss.
Rest in Peace, Uncle Chalie. There are many who loved you and you loved on the other side – after you’ve greeted all of them – have a pint with my Tim. He’ll show you around, and where to find the best beers.