Mar 10, 2010

You Don't Look The Same When You Die

I honestly do not understand the concept of an open casket funeral.  I mean, I understand that it is supposed to give love ones closure and a final chance to say good bye.  Still, I don't get it.

Monday was my grandfather's funeral.  He passed away on Friday after months of being ill.  I knew in advance the time was coming and took the opportunity to visit him on Valentine's Day when he was still aware of his surroundings.  I also got to talk too him (although he was not able to speak back) last Monday.

Services were held at the same funeral home in the same small town as my Granddaddy's (1982) and Grandmama's (1999).  It was kind of surreal stepping back into the place where I last saw my Grandmamma's body lying in a casket.  The most prominent thing from my memory of that day was that the woman lying there looking nothing like my Grandmama, and it was no comfort seeing a body that looked nothing like someone I held so dear to my heart. 

I went in with a false sense of security knowing that Papaw was to be cremated.  I guess they decided to perform the cremation after the service so there would be the opportunity to have a viewing.  Once again I have been struck with the thought of this looks nothing like the person I saw just weeks ago.  I had no intention of speaking, but when the floor was opened for memories, I felt moved to.  I was able to share one of my fondest memories of my cousins and I sitting out on the deck of his house above the bayou spitting watermelon seeds at each other while our dads and Papaw shucked Oysters (yuck!) right out of the water.

Does anyone else feel comforted by this ritual?  I don't think that this is what I want for myself someday.  I don't want to be looked at in a box (opened or closed), I don't want to sit up on someones mantle or at the top of a closet.  Someone take my ashes and leave me on the river bank or at the beach.  That is where we are taking Papaw in a few weeks.  Down to the beach.  The water was always the place where he was the happiest.

John Howard Jones


The Harrell Family Adventures said...

I love you Timon!!!

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

That was lovely, and I agree...the beach is a wonderful place to be put to rest.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I totally agree with you on the open casket thing. Both my parents were open casket visitations. Didn't look any where close to their living selves. Horrible final memories on that. The Evil Twin and I agree no visitations and cremations for both.

sandandstarfish said...

you're all in my thoughts and prayers.

RN Mama said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your Grandpa, many hugs to you:)

I agree that the open casket thing is weird. Both of my Dad's parents have passed away, and I remember thinking at their funerals that the extreme amount of makeup was really weird! My grandpa even had makeup on his hands, which was weird. I remember standing by the casket looking at him, and one of my mom's friends came up to me and said "Doesn't he look great?" I thought, "Um, no." What was I supposed to say "yeah, he looks great for a dead person?!"