When I went to the funeral, my heart ached for the man who had lost his wife.
I imagined him going home that next week and putting put his key in the lock, knowing that he would be opening the door to an empty house. For how many years had his friend, his playmate, his partner been there, inside waiting for him?
For how many years had the familiar smells wafted from the kitchen?
“What’s for dinner?”
And now, everything that had been a comfort to him would be strange and uncomfortable, frightening even. The house would seem empty.
During the funeral I glanced at the blue urn on the altar. Was that all that was left? How could it all fit inside that one small, ceramic container?
The stories. The adventures. The laughing and crying. The loving and understanding. The struggles.
Could it be possible that if it were my one, all of him would be pushed into that stupid blue urn? All of his beautiful six-foot body, his wonderful love-lit eyes, his little boy smiles? All of him inside a vase-like thing that was no more than eight inches high?
I wouldn’t believe it.
I would keep seeing him back there—on the other side of the door to our house, in front of his computer, reading his newspaper, listening to his operas.
“It’s a lie. He’s not there, on that altar, in that urn. He’s home. In bed. Having a nap. It will just be a little while and he’ll be all better again.”
And so it went at the funeral, with me seeing the new widower there in the front pew while at the same time seeing myself there, horrified and numb.
I cried for those of us who have lost our loved ones and for those of us who are afraid of losing our loved ones. I cried for the widower and I cried for myself and I even cried for my husband sitting next to me, thinking of the day when he himself might be a widower in shock, having lost me.
I cried for all of us who have to face those awful days.
Finally, I cried because I believe in the “better in than out,” theory of crying. If I feel like crying, I cry. I learned a long time ago never to judge my tears—
“Big girls don’t cry.”
“Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.”
“There are other people who have worse things to cry about.”
—I learned to trust my tears and I realized that there’s always a reason something makes me cry—someone else’s pain, or for my own pain now, or even for previous pain from that I didn’t know I was still hurting from.
I know my tears at the funeral I went to were saying to the mourners who were there: “I’m with you” and “I’m sorry for your loss.” I also know that with their healing flow my tears were preparing me for those awful days yet to come that would be filled with my own blue urns and doors that led to empty houses.
If you go to a funeral and it makes you cry, go ahead and cry. Remember though, that it doesn’t have to be a funeral for you to allow yourself to shed tears.
- Let yourself cry over “anything that triggers you, no matter how seemingly trivial.”
- Cry until you’re done. “Your heart will decide when enough is enough. If you connect with the true source of your pain, you’ll find it’s finite.”
- Don’t be self-critical of your tears. Be compassionate.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Image: Holly Lay/Flickr
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Emily Bartran