When people die, no one really knows what to do. Call? Visit? Send cards, casseroles or flowers?
I can personally say that most of the above were very much appreciated. In the fog of grief, many of these overtures were not remembered, unfortunately. So, please, don't be offended if the thank-you card never arrives.
The sympathy cards were kind reminders that other people loved Jeff and missed him too. That we were not alone in our grief and that our family and friends were thinking of us.
The food was a lifesaver. My children were fed. There were all sorts of snacks for visitors to graze on. I never once felt the need to go to the store (even if I hadn't been on sedatives to prevent me from having the energy to scream obscenities into the void).
I found it hard after Jeff died to be at the centre of such hubbub and pain. I had difficulty feeling that I was needed to alleviate other's pain and suffering.
Talking on the phone was unbearable. Speaking face to face was often worse.
I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to communicate. I couldn't get out what I needed/wanted to say. And most often, I didn't want to say anything.
But the flowers were lovely....initially. They were thoughtful and generous. The sentiment was kind.
Then I had to water them. It was more than I could remember and wrap my head around. One more thing I had to accomplish with the energy that I didn't have. I'd sit in the chair by the window staring at the flowers that had adorned the church during his funeral. The happy pinks and purples with the vibrant greens. They seemed futile, smug and ridiculous. They screamed at me, "Life goes forward. We are happy, happy, happy flowers." I wanted to yell at them, "Fuck you, you preppy little losers. I hate you." Instead, I threw wadded up wet tissues at them with the vigor of one who despises something so intensely that thought may just blow it to pieces.
Then they began to wilt. And they reminded me that 'everything dies'. They rubbed my nose in the lesson that I had just learned so painfully. Everything is fleeting. Nothing lasts.
I watched as their once oh-so-smug petals fell to the floor. As their leaves turned transparent and brown.
I felt strangely pleased by their deaths. They deserved it for being so fucking joyful. They knew nothing about life and sadness. Had they even been picked yet when Jeff died? Did they even know what pain was?
But then, I eventually got around to feeling that I should clean them up. And I couldn't do it.
Putting away the vases and throwing out the flowers meant that his funeral had happened and he was indeed dead. That time was still marching on. That I was removing the last vestiges marking the loss of his life from our home.
So those bloody flowers stayed for a long time past their past due date....Always reminding me that Jeff was dead. And that things die. And that life sucks.
I eventually threw the flowers in the composter hoping that this would make me feel that they would be reborn in some other fabulous growing green thing. The vases (aka white cheesy grecian vases adorned with fake plastic ribbons) I held onto until last week. I thought I'd feel guilty releasing these icons of his death. But I didn't. He had never seen them....and it was my last 'screw you' to those stupidly joyous giddy buds.
I will never give flowers to someone mourning again. The care, the upkeep, the reminder and the in-your-face optimism is too much for a person in pain.
Instead, I will send a fabulous casserole with no return address so they don't feel that they need to send a bloody thank-you card for something they would have preferred didn't happen.
(Sorry if I sound ungrateful.....just wondering at the reasoning behind this tradition)