Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grief

What a terrible title for a post - but this is an interesting problem/issue/feeling etc.

Dad died on Thursday AM. Because of laws with death certificates etc, we could not get the grave opened by Friday. You can't bury in a jewish cemetary on Saturday so that leaves Sunday for the funeral.

4 days is too long.

Jewish funerals don't have a wake or a viewing or any of that but I can see the need for that type of thing if you aren't having the funeral the day afterwards, or even two days after. 4 days is too long to wait with no rituals, no place to go, and nothing to do. No closure.

Mom wants to see Dad "one more time" - and we are not "prepared" for that if you know what I mean. If we had had the funeral right away, we would not even be having the discussion. We are worried sick that she will insist on seeing him, be horrified and more stressed. She is way deep into grieving - and we're all worried about leaving her alone after a few weeks.

I guess we'll see how it goes, but all I can say is "oy". I might even call the rabbi for some advice - altho' mom is not the most religious person - in fact I wish she were more religious so that she could have some comfort from that quarter.

Logic isn't working and we are considering saying "no - you cannot do that". But then she will resent our interferance. Right now we feel that we are dammed if we do...and dammed if we don't.

Any advice?

25 comments:

Fern said...

no advice Mim.
but hearing you.
that's all I can offer.

I hear you.

marianne said...

I can´t advice you in this.....I have no idea how these things go in the USA and also when you are Jewish......
At the day of the cremation it was possible to say goodbye to the deceased before the ceremony started. I intented not to see my Dad anymore, as I already did when I arrived an hour too late in the hostital and by that time it was already not my Dad anymore.
That day he was in a corner of a room with a wall around him. I also thought to leave my kids free in their choice and thought that they would not want to.
Al of a sudden my youngest disappaered behind the wall, before I could consult with him, so I quickly joined him to support him.
So I saw my Dad again after 4 days.
I thought he looked better than when he just died, so that was a relief. Before they closed his coffin I even hold his cold hands and it was ok. Also for my kids. It just all went so natural.
My Mom didn´t see my Dad, she never wanted to see death people in her life, it always upset her, so she didn´t really ask , we didn´t suggest it, we asked once and she just shooked her head no, and to be honest I don´t know for sure but I think she didn´t see him......
I thought about it before and all went differently then I had planned it in my head, but all went very naturally.
I think you already give yourself the right advice: I guess we'll see how it goes, you said.
At the right moment the right thing will happen.

Jude said...

Seeing your father may help your mum in her mourning.

Teri said...

Oh Mim,

I feel for you, trying to make these decisions "off the cuff" and hope they are for the best.

If your mum wants to see her husband one more time, when the time comes, I think that's for the best. She may have regrets later, but to me that would be better than to forever wish she had seen him that one last time.

In my post about Mike dying, I did not put in some these details as they seemed too depressing, if that is the right word, for others to read, but now I think I will write about them, so it might be of help to others at a time like that, just as your post has been, as nothing ever seems to go just like you planned it in your head.

You will get through this and be able to look back on it all as the best you could do, at the time, with what you knew.

Time is a gift that heals.

Teri and her cats

Stapeliad said...

I offer my deepest condolences for your loss. What a shame with the delayed funeral...that is hard. Best wishes for you and your family.

Lynn said...

I wonder if the rabbi will suggest sitting shiva. Perhaps in a way you are already doing that. I have only attended one Shiva. The family sits and does nothing. Others come and bring food and stand around or sit around and smooze/talk. Only about the deceased if the family wants that...or life in general otherwise. But the family is not left alone they feel the support of their community. (In this case it was a couple who lost their adult son).
I think they had time alone together. The public was invited into their home during certain hours to do this "sitting".

As for viewing the body. I was with my mother when she died in the ER. I sat with her until her brain died. I felt I had said my goodbye then. But later when my brother came he wanted to view her in the mortuary. He asked me to accompany him. I did go for him, but reluctantly. For years after that bothered me...I did not like the image of my mother in a box.
I think this is such a personal thing. Has your mother viewed a deceased person before? If she knows what it's like then perhaps for her to see her dear husband one more time is really what she wants and should be granted. She is going to have a hard time no matter what...I cannot imagine losing a husband of over 60 years together. My uncle worries about this too, whether he goes first or my aunt does. We don't think the other will last long after one of them dies. They are so closely connected that way.

Is your mom able to live on her own? Does she not have dementia?
(Why do I assume all old people do?) Does anyone live close enough to her to visit often? You will call and check on her for sure.

My heart breaks for her. And I'm sad for all of you in the family that have this saddness right now, this worry. It's a shame the funeral could not happen within the prescribed 24 hours. But the grief would have continued regardless.

I hope your family works this out and your mom has as easy a time as possible with it, you too. More hugs from me.

I hope my sharing is helpful.

studio lolo said...

Oy is right Mim.
I'm sorry for the rock and the hard place you seem to be between.
Jewish faith doesn't believe in embalming, right? I have no idea what a deceased person wuld look like after 4 days, so seeing him may be a bit worse indeed.
But I'll never forget the feeling of not seeing a loved one "one more time" and having that "if only" feeling.
I'd say that in my heart if your mom insists, let her see him and have someone there to support her who can handle it.

It's a sensitive, sad time and all of you need to get through it in your own way.

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
xo

Ces said...

Hi Mim,

Please accept my condolences.

What a dilemma since your religious upbringing does not allow for a wake. When my Father died, we were also faced with challenges because of beliefs and customs. As Catholics, we had a wake and then we were to bury my Father on the seventh day but the seventh day fell on the thirteenth. We had to have special arrangements for his remains to be prepared for an extra day. He was embalmed but I think in your case, you don't have that. The wake was very comforting and it gave me and my family a chance for solitude and meditation. Our cultural outlook on death is also different, we embrace it as part of our life and even babies are exposed to it, especially if it is their grandparent. If your Father's remains is sealed maybe your Mom can just touch the coffin or sit by it. It may give her much comfort. I know that movies portray coffins and funerals in a rather macabre manner sometimes but if your mother thinks of it as just saying goodbye once more, it may give her comfort.

kj said...

maybe it might help to prepare your mom for what your father might look like after four days, and then talk about the "pictures" and remembrances she'll want to carry with her afterwards. then she probably knows best what will help her the most.

i feel for you mim, and send my condolences during this sad and challenging time. don't forget you have the strength of your family: that counts alot.

human being said...

my dearest Mim
please accept my heartfelt condolences...
sure it's so hard to leave a dear one forever no matter how old he might be... and certainly it is a difficult time for you all...
and 4 days is really a long time...

your mother has lived a very long time with your dad... she knows and cherishes every part of his being... she has watched him in happiness... in pain... they are more intimate than any of you i think... if seeing her husband can comfort her, why should you fear?
and you can make it a ritual... thus helping her to pass these 4 days more comfortably... think if some of you who do not mind seeing dad accompany her and tell her good sentences about how your dad is resting peacefully, she can meet her husband for the last time in a comfortable atmosphere...

that's what the crow thinks... and is cheeky enough to share it with you...

sure his soul is at rest now feeling all your love and care for him....

hugs...hugs... hugs...
and love

ElizT said...

Thinking of you, Mim.

soulbrush said...

it is a real problem when you can't bury them immediately (due to the sabbath)...so there is nothing you can do but wait, and that's hell. your mom will grieve in her own way just as you will too. once you get through sunday it will all seem more possible....not nice for anyone right now...,more hugs...

Artist Unplugged said...

Oh, bless you and your family. What a difficult thing, I suppose I would try to be truthful and up front with your mom, prepare her and give her the choice to see him. I would certainly search the advice of a Rabbi about this. It is a rock and a hard place. Must she wait until Sunday to see him? I know it is a very difficult time, lost my mom and my dad 5 and 6 six years ago. I was fortunate enough to be with them both, holding their hand and speaking with them as they passed. It was incredibly hard to view them the last time, knowing that was the last time I would ever see them on earth. My heart and prayers go out to you for strength, wisdom and peace in these next few days and the coming weeks. Take care.

Anna Lefler said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. And, yes, that's an uncomfortable spot you're in - one I've never had to face. I wish I had some great advice...but I think talking to the rabbi is a great start.

Sending hugs.

:^) Anna

Teri C said...

The only thing I can offer you is my deepest sympathy. Losing a parent is so difficult.

Saying goodbye is important even in death. I have always regretted not saying, "I love you" to my DH the night before he died.

Let your heart take the lead in this decision.

differenceayearmakes said...

My heart goes out to you. There are no easy decisions. All I would say is honor your mother's wishes. We can't say what is best for someone else.

Take care, blessings,

Debra Kay said...

Mim, I did not have Uncle John embalmed. The funeral home will likely have your father on a cot in a temperature controlled room and could prepare your father for a viewing-although (at least here in Oklahoma) without embalming, it can only be one family member.

I was the one who went in before the casket was closed to identify John one last time. I was glad my Mom and my Aunt didn't have to see him that way, If you are doing a natural type burial with a shroud and not a suit-there is nothing to "fluff" out the body-so it is definitely a dead body, not what people see in funerals. For me, the most disturbing part was the shrunken aspect of his tiny form, but it also helped me realize he was gone. Actually, what I said to him was "yep, you are still gone" and I realized then he wasn't hanging around or mourning that body.

But truly grasping the finality of that isn't that easy. I drive by his nursing home quite a bit on errands, and I still think "Oh, I should drop by and see Uncle John" because it seems in my mind, that's where I remember him the most.

Your funeral director could probably guide you best. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that is not going to have a good outcome no matter what you do.

My prayers are for you and your family at this time. Death is one of those lonely things we go through, no matter how many loved ones are around.

supplies overflowing! said...

My dad died on a Wed. this past Aug. He was 92, and ready to go. He'd led a pretty heathy and robust life, but the last 3 years brought him down- his eyesight was fading bit by bit, rheumatoid arthritis hit, he started losing his balance, but he never lost his wits about him. Always the intelligent thinker (except once when he had hallucinations due to a drug a doctor put him on.) He had let us know he was ready for quite some time. I always felt that there was a reason he held on. He was with us for my twin's high school graduation in June, and had the chance to speak with them (numerous times)about their college plans, and so forth, he was with us on father's day of last year, and all the kids and grandkids were at his house. It was a great day. I could go on giving reasons why HE stayed with us for so long. Those thoughts were a comfort to us in those bleak days.
Well, because we live at the Jersey shore, and had relatives coming from a distance (and some elderly) we had to think about what would be best for everyone involved, as far as traffic, and work. We ended up having the wake on Sunday and the funeral on Mon.
It gave the grandkids time to look at photos, and put together a few collages, it gave my daughter time to get here from Arizona where she works and was taking a class.
My mother was numb the entire time. She doesn't remember much from the ordeal. They had been married for 65 and a 1/2 years, and had dated each other from the time she was 16.
I don't know how they prepare the body for cremation, so I don't know what your mother would see if she saw your father. I remember being told that my mother had asked for someone to take a picture of my father in the casket because she thought he looked so good. Well, nobody did that. I think she forgot that she had asked. It hasn't been easy for her, and it won't be either, for your mom. I am not going to lie about that. We live near my mother, so we are always checking in with her- visiting pretty much every day. She will be 85 in a couple of weeks.
I think it would be better for your mom to remember you dad as he was, but that is me.
I wonder if you have figured out yet what to do as far as your mother seeing your dad "one more time."
I am truly sorry about your loss, and the problems you have faced since Thursday.
I will add that on the morning of the funeral, I walked outside to pick up our newspaper and looked up at the sky as I always do, and I saw the most amazing cloud formations, and sun streaks and rays. A feeling of clam came over me. My dad was at rest.
A couple of us have had dreams about him- even my mother has seen him. And they seem so real. He is always young and vibrant and smiling huge smiles.
In mine, when he was hugging the kids in my dream, and I asked if I could hug him too, he said- "if we (meaning me, and the rest of my family) all hug each other, it will be like hugging him." So true- wouldn't you say? Something to remember when your mom maybe has you at your wit's end, give her a hug, and remind her that it's like hugging apart of your dad.

Mary said...

just adding that my heart and thoughts are with you. and i agree this could be difficult for all to see your dad at this point. sorry you had to wait so long for the burial, etc. it's tough enough already.

Debra Kay said...

My thoughts are with you today.

Judy said...

Wishing you a long life. It is a big mitvah to say Tehilim, psalms over the body whilst the body waits for burial. It is said that the tehilim calms the soul as it is this libo-type state.
xox

studio lolo said...

I'm feelin' you today :)

xoxo

kj said...

i'm thinking of you and feeling for you too today, mim.

xo

katie jane said...

Poor Mim. I so understand your anguish. That really is a long time to wait, but it takes even longer for the pain to subside. I lost my dad when I was only 30. He was cremated, so there never was a "funeral". Only a memorial service. I felt so lost. I was still in shock. His ashes were scattered by my stepmother, by herself, so again, there wasn't really "closure". People grieve in their own way and at their own pace. I guess, if your mother feels the need to see him again, maybe this IS her closure. My thoughts are with you.

ksklein said...

so did your mom have the possibility to see him again.