Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Hard Road Still Takes You Somewhere Beautiful

Karen's mum's funeral took place in Amersham on Wednesday - a rather beautiful part of the UK and evidently affluent. It went as well as funeral's go. I think we did her proud. The general feeling from most people was that her death was a blessed relief. Her strength of spirit and ferocious will was acknowledged by all. Funerals are always a paradox. An acknowledgement of loss accompanied often by personal gains. I think Karen's gains are a slow reconnection with other members of her family who, for various reasons (all tied up with Karen's mother) have been distant up till now. We came away with about three invitations to come and stay with people in places that ranged from Shrewsbury to Skye. I hope we'll soon be a position to take advantage of those.

Of course, now the admin of the funeral is done and dusted the grief starts properly. It is a slow process, not always "in your face". Often it works quietly at the back of your mind and heart and rears its head at the smallest, often seemingly inconsequential moments. To say I feel protective of Karen and my boys is an understatement.

The real heart of this post though is this: the last few weeks have been difficult and traumatic. Karen, the boys and I have had to gad about quite a bit, trying to sort things out and jump through all the correct legal hoops that death, without ever meaning to, throws up. Society likes its forms to be filled in and good form to be followed. On the surface it's been stressful. But underneath I cannot deny that I have enjoyed being with Karen and my boys. Maybe it's the sense of adversity, the way a shared grief bonds people but I can almost see myself in years to come looking back on the adventure of the last few weeks with a curious sense of joy. Almost a sense of stolen holiday. Does that sound wrong?

We were together. We doing stuff that was out of the ordinary. And even through all the heart heavy sorrow and stress there were most definitely good times and good moments.

Almost as if in the midst of death life was determined to be loudly affirmed.

It is a strange, almost guilty, comfort.

12 comments:

Trish Burgess said...

I can empathise with this. When my dad died the whole 'process' bonded the family, whether it was organising the Order of Service, deciding what to eat at the wake, choosing hymns and faffing about with forms. For my mum, it kept the grief on hold and there was, oddly enough, a lot of happiness, just as you mention.
When all that finishes, the mood can change and there were many ups and downs.
I loved meeting all my cousins again at my dad's funeral - it was so good to all be together. Rory enjoyed being part of a much bigger family- it was an important step for him.
Thinking of you all and hope the rest of this journey has more peaks than troughs x

Steve said...

Trish: me too! It's been a very family-centric few weeks and I guess that's always a bit of a test. It's with real pleasure that I can say I've enjoyed the sense of togetherness. If we were driving each other up the walls it would be a very bad sign!

Gorilla Bananas said...

From what you've said about your mother-in-law, I'm sure she'd be happy that her death brought her family closer together. Living well is the best thing you can do for her now.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: sounds like a mandate I'd be more than happy to follow.

Wanderlust said...

Sending love and light your way. Grief cam be complex and unpredictable. xx

Steve said...

Wanderlust: thank you.

Fredulous Yo said...

It's good that you were able to enjoy a certain amount of consolation in your family's company. I hope you have more good moments as you collectively get through this.

Steve said...

Fredulous Yo: thank you. As I have always said, even amongst the bad, the good is still there.

Rol said...

Good for you, finding the positive in such a sad time.

Best wishes to you all.

Steve said...

Cheers, Rol.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Yes, there are definitely bitter sweet elements in funerals. And strange co-incidences. Did you have any of those? Where you almost felt Karen's mum was present or showing signs of herself?

Steve said...

Laura: have to say she was very absent - and I don't mean that at all ironically.