When was the last time you experienced deep emotional trauma and you instantly perked up based on what someone said to you at that moment? Likely never.
Our own emotional filters are built for survival. If they were not, we would be crushed under the weight of our experience.
Wakes serve several purposes, as I see it. They are to allow people to express their sympathy and to help the grieving experience support from those who care.
I remember talking to my husband on the way back from Children’s Hospital after our son died. Absolutely no wake. No way. Not happening.
Then we had a wake.
My uncle convinced me to do it and I will be forever grateful. He said that if we did not do it then we would be denying those who care about us the opportunity to express their sadness over what happened. Every time we went to the grocery store we would have to “receive” someone who is seeing us for the first time. That could last years.
He was right, however there are only a few moments of those days I still remember with clarity. I remember when his team of cardiologists came in. They were crying more than us. The impact of their emotions is something I will never forget.
Last, and this is the part I share that still stirs my heart even after all these years, I remember the absolute peace I felt walking out of the church singing How Great Thou Art at the top of my lungs. I don’t remember a single soul in that packed to the rafters church. It was just me and my God. Who knew it would be seven long years before I felt bouncy joy again?
I pity those who don’t have faith in a greater power…although they may pity me…who knows?
We go to wakes and funerals to express kindness and love to those who are grieving but I truly believe the people we call on are actually secondary to our purpose. Yes, we hug them, buy flowers and express condolences in cards and gifts but our tears are way more personal.
We most often cry remembering our own loss…when a friends child passes its like my heart getting ripped out of my chest. I feel that cold sweat sickness and am zoomed back in time.
Sometimes we move on as quickly as it takes to stop for coffee on the way home from a wake. But there is someone in that room that won’t feel that same bouncy joy for sometime to come.
I also know the way someone passes only matters at the beginning of the journey. The shock and horror at what happened in Connecticut is indescribable. They made their child a sandwich and sent them off to school. Gone in a flash.
But, after the shock passes, the end is the same.
My son’s death was like watching a horror film in slow motion. I am here to say, however, you are never prepared for it. You may see it coming but you are never prepared.
In the end, you are alone with your emotions and the inevitable reality that somehow, sometime you must move on.
I am not pompous enough to predict how another person will feel as they go on their journey of grief. I know it took me seven long years to have the bounce of joy back. Others may come from a healthier place and progress more quickly.
The holidays are upon us. We can turn the TV off and move on. Those folks touched by the tragedy have years of sadness ahead of them. The cameras will move on to another trauma. Set a reminder to yourself in six months to pray for them. Pray that someday they get their bouncy joy back.
Joy does come back. Believe it will.
Meanwhile, we all cry alone.
- Broken Hearts (myworldintheword.wordpress.com)