Tomorrow is an interesting day with a couple of milestones. Tomorrow is Becky’s last day before her Zoe leave. That’s a mark that we didn’t hit last year, so it’s kind of a nice bit of progress for this pregnancy.
Tomorrow is also the anniversary of Doria’s funeral. For “some reason,” that day seems to come to mind easily right now. Funny how that happens. Here is the most important thing that I remember about that day: It was the easiest day of this entire process. I can’t think of anything easier than funeral day. Obviously, a lot of tears, but the day was easy. This is why:
1. We saw a vivid picture of the hordes of people supporting us. The funeral was awfully well attended, and that was powerful and encouraging to us.
2. We started the day by visiting the funeral home for our last time with Doria’s little casket. We didn’t have the nerve to open it, because neither of us wanted to risk changing our last memories of Doria before giving her over to the funeral home. We sat and cried mostly in disbelief that this was happening. It was real, but not completely real yet.
3. That went more quickly than we expected, so we made a lunch date. It took 10 months before we ate there again, but we had a nice lunch.
4. We bought a cake and had it delivered to the funeral. We got to give on the sly, and that was fun. That kind of thing was us. We felt normal doing that, and we were giddy about it. There was some unintended comedy when the delivery people got to the church, but that made the cake scene a little sweeter.
Funeral day was easy. I still smile when I think back to that day. I cry, too, but with a smile. It was beautiful and it was easy. It was easy because we were still completely in shock. We needed to be in order to get through those first days and function. I’m grateful for shock, because it’s so necessary.
Thinking of it really led me to think of something that might help those who want to help grieving people. It’s so easy to base our evaluation of grieving people on how they look at the funeral. If we don’t wail like a TV funeral, then everything seems to be OK. In our case, it wasn’t possible visibly to see that I was really only running on adrenaline. I had been so focused and busy on getting towards funeral day that I was really just swept up in the whirlwind of events. I was spending time grieving, but I had no idea what it really entailed yet. I had held Doria’s body in my hands. I knew she was dead, but it was nowhere near real yet.
From a faith standpoint, it was easy. I was bothered that Doria died, and that God chose to let it happen, but it hadn’t really sunk in yet. A favorite passage that I’ve taught at a Bible college in Jamaica (http://www.fairviewbbc.com) happens in Hebrews 3 and 4, talking about the rest awaiting people in Christ. I wrote this quick little note for the back of our funeral program, and I found it easy. I don’t think I even blinked in the process, because I wrote at an amazing rate. This is the easy note:
Becky and I want to thank you for joining us today as we
mourn our loss and celebrate the wonderful gift God
gave us in Doria Charis. Our time with her was
short, but it has been a blessing we will never forget,
and a love we will never regret. After 10 years of
marriage, understanding that children were not an option
for our little family, we were gleefully shocked early this
year to find out that we were expecting our little gift of
grace. Over the next few months, we learned lessons
about love that we never even imagined, and we
watched God provide in stunning ways for our little
miracle. We loved the perfect pregnancy and the hopes
for our future time with her. Even though God had a
better plan that involved bringing her home, we rejoice
over every minute of these last few months. We are
grateful that our little Doria never had to experience
pain, and we anxiously await the day that we get to see
her in our heavenly home.
That was easy. I had no troubles and no doubts as I wrote that. Simple, straightforward, not a problem at all. That was sort of like the explanation Gloria Gaither gives in the first couple minutes of this video:
It was easy, because I didn’t know what I was getting into. At that stage, nobody really does. I knew that my daughter died. I knew that was going to last. I had no idea at all how that would affect my confidence, my ability to function, my faith, my outlook on life and every part of it, or anything else. It’s impossibly to know until it’s in the rear view mirror. I was living in the sweet illusion of shock, and that made funeral day easy.
That’s the trick if you want to help somebody early on. Don’t go for the easy visual once-over or a surface level conversation. Take the time and talk to them. Build that relationship to the point that they’re willing to trust you and talk to you. Find out what’s actually going on. The both of you might find out what they actually need.
But no matter what, don’t just take a quick glance and assume that everything is OK. Nothing is OK as early as funeral day. We just don’t know it yet, because we’re living in the sweet illusion of shock.