Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some things I never thought I do...

Ok let me preface this post by saying it's about a topic that most of us don't like to talk about... death and funerals. But not in a creepy way (cause that creeps me out), but more of a testimony of how I've overcome my irrational, albeit merited fear of them. Carry on...

Over the past year 5 years I've gone to about 10 funerals and I survived most of them without major incident. Now I know you may be saying to yourself  "So, what's the big deal?", but for someone who used to literally be sick and frozen with fear at the very thought of caskets and such, this is a personal triumph.
You see when I was a child I had a few traumatic, and some comedic experiences at wakes and funerals. I personally believe I suffered from a splash of PTSD, but that is a self-diagnosis. But once you understand why, I think you'll agree.
The very first wake I ever went to was in the small country church in the town where my grandparents lived. (One stop light, one power pole, Mayberry kinda town.) A very popular lady in the community had passed and she was also my mother's godmother. I was 7 at the time and no one explained to me what exactly we were going to. All I knew of wakes was from TV. So I'm thinking a coffin, a flower or two, and a nice picture on an easel. Imagine my shock to walk into this church and see a dead person at the front!!! (Even at that age I'm sure I cussed in my mind long before I understood that was the appropriate response.) I never walked up to the casket out of pure fear and confusion, but there were people everywhere and somehow I ended up in the lounge of the ladies room. It seemed like a safe place to be. The children's choir was singing, and I had actually calmed down. Until it happened... THE CHURCH WENT DARK!!! PITCH BLACK!!! Inside and outside there was not a flicker of light anywhere to be found. Street light, porch lights, cigarette lighters nothing. Now for a 7yr old who slept with a night light as it was, this was the worse thing that could've happened. I froze. To this day I can't tell you what happened for the next few minutes or how I got out of that church. The next thing I remember was somehow ending up in the car with my daddy and my sister (who was a wee tot) listening to the radio. I don't remember crying, screaming or anything... just traumatized. From that point on I was done with dead folks... and it seemed to only get crazier as the years went by.
I went to what we thought was a wake and it ended up being a night time funeral, then when we viewed the body he looked NOTHING like the person we were told it was supposed to be. Seriously, how does a man who was lighter than me, somehow end up being dark chocolate in his casket??? Still not convinced that was him.
Went to a service once where the casket wasn't closed all the way and my mom thought me and my sister were just seeing things out of our fear... yeah not so much. It wasn't closed and when we saw the person in the casket with a winter coat on we understood why!!!
I've pumped myself up to go support a bereaved family, thought I was doing ok, til I got ready to sign the guest registry only to grab the pen and began shaking so hard it looks as though a 3yr old had scribbled in the book. FAIL!!!
And of course because I am the clown that I am I have sat in funerals and in an effort to take my mind off where I was I have gotten so tickled with nervous laughter I've had tears running down my face and had to play it off as if I were overcome with grief.
Now that I'm older, I realize I've matured in the natural and in the spiritual when it comes to facing death and funerals, but I understand better celebrating the life through the tears of missing the person is all part of this thing we call life.
But don't get me wrong, give me a wedding or a baby dedication over a funeral any day (but if you're into the macabre, I'm not judging. I am yet praying for you, but not judging), however since I'm no longer frozen in fear at funerals it could easily manifest itself in some other form of foolishness. I mean the last one I went to I actually walked up to the casket voluntarily alone and said "Awww she looks nice" which is something I never thought I would do... but on the other hand trying to fall in the casket thinking you're going to take them out and walk around like "Weekend at Bernie's" is NOT a good idea... don't ask me how I know. Just don't ask... :-/

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