Goodbyes and Memories

It was a strange Thursday.

I returned home from working out and flipped on the TV (my standard background noise). It was FreeFall,the ER episode where Dr. Romano was killed by the helicopter. Those helicopters were really Romano’s crocodile, weren’t they?

Anyway, many folks remember that episode because of the shocking way they did away with a bully of a doctor. I remember for a different reason: it first ran the day we buried my mother (11/20/2003) She had advanced Alzheimer’s Disease; we lost her, really, years before her heart stopped beating and her lungs stopped expanding. I never remember the day she actually died, but I remember sitting alone in a motel room watching that episode after it was all over.

Anyway, couple that show’s reminder with the fact I was planning to attend the visitation for a friend’s spouse who died on Monday. I was in a weird mood.

The email notice told me that visitation would be from 4 pm. until 7 pm. at which time there would be a vigil/service. Sounded odd… but OK. the 4 pm time sounded good; I could attend and support my friend and still get home before it got too dark. It’s raining and I don’t see well to drive in the rain.

I arrived about 4:30 pm. My friend and one of her 3 daughters were discussing plans for the internment Friday with the funeral director. Nobody else was in the building. My friend sent me into the chapel where the body was. About 15 minutes later, their discussion with the director over, they left.

Yep. I was alone in a building with a director locked in his office making phone calls and a corpse.
He wasn’t all that great to visit with. Obviously I misunderstood something. What, I’m not sure. Checking the email I received, though, it did say that she wouldn’t be there the whole time. Still no family member at all??

Anyway, I sat there and thought about the differences between this setup and what I’m used to back in the Midwest. Then, after signing my name (#1) in the book, I went home. It was a total waste of time.

The receiving room was a funeral chapel complete with pews and kneelers. The coffin near the front where you’d find an altar. I can only imagine that people sit there, like they do in church, facing forward and quiet.

I’m used to funeral homes.. large rooms with upholstered chairs around the perimeter(I almost said comfy.. but they seldom are) and folding chairs set up in the center of the room. The coffin is along the far wall and surrounded with flowers. Somewhere removed is a smallish room normally with coffee and cookies. Most people stand and walk around visiting quietly in small groups. In the course of an hour or so, you can catch up with everyone you know.

Visitations are normally held 1-4 pm. and 7-9 pm. When a visitation time is announced, the family of the deceased is there the whole time. They might stand by the casket or walk around the room. Frequently we would sit in those comfy chairs catching moments whenever we could. Dressed up, or atleast dressed neatly.

That’s what confused me about today. If, indeed there was a visitation, the family should have been there. Some family should have been there. If there wasn’t, why was the room open and waiting?


Whatcha Doing Today? The spouser is off work, so we’re running some errands.


2 responses to “Goodbyes and Memories

  1. Strange indeed and a sad November story. Please chear me up !

  2. Sorry to hear that an already uncomfortable situation was made even more awkward for you. That is quite strange that no family members were present!

    My Dad passed away April 2006 and was cremated. Our family decided to hold a Celebration of Life event/gathering instead of going the wake/funeral/burial route. The Celebration was wonderful: therapeutic for all who created it as well as all who attended. I know Dad would have approved of the way we honored his life, told great stories about him and most of all – how we served copious amounts of food to everyone there.

    Feeding people was Dad’s favorite way of showing his love.

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