Tag Archives: grieving

The Funeral – The Final Goodbye – part 2

Today I continue on with last week’s post about the day of the funeral, which you’ll find here if you haven’t read it yet, and now to continue with The Funeral – The Final Goodbye – part 2, which covers the burial.

After receiving the worst comment to date, about the state of my grieving from the insensitive driver, (in last week’s post) , I also quickly want to say thank you to everyone who wrote me to send their sympathies on having had that experience!

It definitely sucked and probably made me more conscious of how I was being perceived at the time, as a cold and callous widow. Which was far from the truth, but goes to show that society, likes to dictate how we mourn.

Examples as below:

Crying widow = good, shows loss through tears and can barely speak through the sobbing, very appropriate

In control and ‘acting’ normal widow, maybe some inappropriate joking = bad, not heartbroken, obviously looking forward to new life without husband

And if this isn’t the way widows are perceived, it sure felt like this was what was expected of me, at the time.

Just a quick side story continuing on from this thought, 6 months after Nick’s passing once I was back at work, I agreed to join some friends for a quick drink after work one night. Some guy started chatting to me and I told him I was newly widowed, to which he very rudely said, ‘then what are you doing out?’

Like somehow, being a widow meant I should be holed up at home, crying over my loss, not seeing the light of day. I remember starting to defend myself, but being faced with a blank stare, so I just stormed off instead.

It was one of many insensitive comments I heard following Nick’s death.

There were so many i’ll be doing a future post, probably titled, ‘Dumb things people say to widows’, that could go on for days and days…

Back to the funeral now…

The Funeral - The Final Goodbye - part 2
Nicks memorial card

Nick had decided to be buried in a beautiful country cemetery next to my grandfather, who passed 6 months earlier. I wrote a little about Nick choosing his own plot in this earlier post.

I think most people thought it was a little morbid, Nick choosing where he’d be laid to rest, but I felt great relief in knowing it was what he wanted, and it was one less thing I had to organise alone, without him.

I don’t remember too much about this time at the cemetery, there were so many people, not just around the hole in the ground that they had specially dug for Nick, but people milling around everywhere, as far as I could see.

Still chanting ‘it’s just one day’ to myself. I remember them asking the close family to stand close to the site, as we all took a rose and as they very slowly lowered Nick into the prepared ground, as we threw our roses on top of him.

The rest of the mourners took what roses were left and did the same, a couple of friends threw other things down with him too, and then it was over, a prayer was said and it was done.

It was the final moment.

None of us would ever see Nick again, this bought the finality of our situation to light. There was no option to open his casket or see him in a viewing room, now he would only remain in our memories and hearts forever.

But, I still didn’t break down. I felt like a robot going through the motions, as I’ve said previously, I felt like this body we had just seen lowered into the earth, wasn’t Nick at all, it was just a vacant vessel.

His spirit was still all around me, keeping me sane, like I could almost hear him whispering to me, Ok, I agree that doesn’t sound very sane, but trust me, I was!

Nick’s parents were inconsolable, his mothers legs were jelly under her, they took her to sit under a tree nearby, as everyone started to disperse.

I stood a minute longer at the site alone and then looked up to find people starting to line up to pay their condolences to me.  I couldn’t very well move away and break the chain, so I stood there and greeted each and every one of them.

They were mostly our families, friends, hospital staff and our work mates, plus friends of Nick i’d never had the pleasure of meeting in the flesh, but had heard so much about.

And it was the nicest thing!

With every hug and kiss, came a quick chat, ‘we’ll miss him‘, ‘work won’t be the same‘, ‘he was always right!‘, ‘he said only the best things about you‘, ‘i’m the one he used to punish at the gym‘, ‘The Golden Greek‘, ‘i’ll miss riding with him‘, ‘who’s going to bring me donuts now‘, ‘he took me under his wing‘. ‘he told us how lucky he was to have you‘, ‘he loved you so much‘ and it went on and on.

And I think my conversation ranged from, ‘oh my god, you came!‘, ‘was that you?“, ‘he thought so highly of you‘, ‘he always thought he was so funny’, ‘remember that time’, ‘know that he loved you!’ and the one that springs to mind, ‘we should have gotten around to that dinner date!’ (Teresa that one’s for you!)

And it gave me the strength I needed, hearing how loved and missed he already was.

How he had touched the lives of so many people.

From being so against doing the condolence line, it turned into the one thing I needed.

Instead of crying, I stood there grinning and laughing with each quick story, and I think I surprised so many, by being myself and reveling in these conversations.

Because as anyone will tell you, I have never shied away from talking about Nick, he’s still my favorite topic, hence this blog!

Talking about him, continues to keep his memory alive, because Nick’s greatest fear was being forgotten. But let’s be honest, he had such a big personality, we couldn’t forget him if we tried!

The Funeral - The Final Goodbye - part 2
Back of memorial card

I’ll leave it there for today, thank you again for reading along, commenting, sharing and pressing the ol’ Like button on The Polished Widow Facebook page.

Your thoughts, comments and emails, truly make my day. I hope by sharing my posts it shows others dealing with loss and grief, that no one can tell you how to mourn, it’s something as individual as our fingerprints, no two people do it the same. (I just made that up, am I the new Oprah or what??)

Subscribe below if you want to keep updated on new posts, thanks for your support!

I’m also putting together a future post with all the questions i’ve been getting asked, so if you have one for me, either email me at thepolishedwidow@gmail.com , post to Facebook or send me a tweet @polishedwidow and i’ll add it to the list!

Til next week, Michela

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The widow wore a little black dress

Today’s post – The widow wore a little black dress is a continuation from last week’s post, which you may want to read if you haven’t already.

For any new readers, welcome, you might want to catch up by starting here instead.

Nick was gone, his body laying in a funeral home somewhere, I was alone, yet surrounded by people. Cards flooded my mailbox, my phone was full of text messages, sending their condolences and asking about funeral times. The house was filled with flowers arrangements, which are meant to cheer you up, but ironically, don’t.

These were all just reminders that Nick was dead.

The widow wore a little black dress
Nick with our daughter in Italy, 2010

He had passed on Saturday morning, but arrangements were made that the funeral was to be held on the Wednesday with a viewing and prayer service the night before, at the same church.

I had more people visit me after his death, than we ever did when he was sick. It used to annoy Nick, that people stayed away once they heard he had cancer, like it was catchy. We had been such a social couple before his diagnosis.

Truth was, it was hard for many of his family and friends to see him this way, the once fit, confident guy they knew, was replaced by this thin, raspy voiced version instead, who walked with a slight limp.

His cancer transformation was huge and sudden.

Sometimes when we had visitors over, they wouldn’t know what to say, we always talked so openly about Nick’s condition and I guess it freaked them out. Especially when he would talk to them about having adequate life insurance and health checks!

When they’d leave, we’d chat and Nick would say to me, ‘you know what, they are driving home now and they are grateful this is happening to us and not them and that’s ok, because we can handle this.‘ I’d get mad and say ‘it’s not ok to think that way,’ but always so wise, he tell me, ‘it shows them to appreciate life, that no one is invincible and that’s all I want.’ (Hence this blog!)

I knew I had his viewing and funeral coming up, and while I had joked to my family about wearing something bright (read this if you want to know why this was a no!) I knew i’d have to at least wear black to these two occasions.

Funnily enough, 4 weeks before Nick died, we had been shopping after a chemo session, when he was drawn to a black dress in a shop window. Now, Nick hated me in black, but this dress was something he kept trying to convince me I needed.

It was a cute black mini dress and it fit perfectly, but I kept telling him I didn’t want it, I had nowhere to wear it and it was a little pricey!

Nick had a thing for me wearing anything short and tight, (one of his first gifts to me were a tiny pair of shorts, which i’ve never worn!).

He wouldn’t take no for an answer, running (or walking as quick as he could with his limp) to the counter to pay for the dress once I took it off!

He told me i’d wear it to our 6th anniversary wedding dinner and he hinted, ‘you’ll wear it to my funeral and be a hot widow‘.

The widow wore a little black dress
The newspaper announcement

So, the time came for his viewing and funeral, and I knew I had at least one black dress to wear, but I couldn’t wear the same thing to both. So off shopping I went, two days before the funeral.

I remember being in a store with my sister and our kids, looking at dresses, needing something conservative and in black. The shop assistant started to ask questions, ‘was it for an interview?’, ‘no a funeral’, I said, ‘my husband’s.’

Then the obligatory look of part shock, embarrassment and sympathy, as she looked from me, to the baby in the pram and bam, ladies that’s how you get 20% off your purchase!!

On the day of the viewing I tried on Nick’s black dress with some heels, wanting to wear it that night, only to have my mum freak out that, ‘it’s too short, you can’t wear that!’

Apparently, the hot widow look wasn’t in that season.

I was being a little defiant, Nick had bought this for me to wear for this occasion, I didn’t want another dress, I was wearing this one.

We decided to take the hem taken down instead as a compromise, which took away the look of the dress, but I got to wear it. Win for me!

To this day though, I have shoved both black dresses to the back of my cupboards, they are just a reminder of that week, the struggle, the tears and losing Nick forever.

Has anyone else not been able to wear their ‘funeral clothes’ again?

Back to the story, it was the night of the viewing and I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t really had time to grieve yet, too busy organising and black dress shopping, plus the enormity of what had happened, hadn’t really hit me yet.

I was too busy making sure everyone else was ok and that my daughter wasn’t effected by what was happening, though at 13 months, I doubt she knew why everyone was crying around her.

I went with my family to the church to farewell Nick for the final time. Many people had called me during the day to say they wouldn’t be coming. They wanted to preserve their memories of Nick instead, couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him laid out in a coffin.

Well, either could I, but apparently, I had to go!

I had collected some of his things to add to his casket including a picture of him and our daughter, Claudia, a letter from me, one of his favourite watches (he collected them), and his g-star man bag, that he went nowhere without, using it to carry all his medication with him, it had became the butt of many jokes.

On a side note, I had emptied out his bag, ready to take to the viewing, when on the way there I noticed a secret compartment I’d missed, in it was $500 and the keys to our shed!

I still laugh that I almost buried him with all that, but, I think it was Nick who made me check it over again!!

His parents also had their own things to add as did mine and a few of his friends too.

I joked at the time, that they’d be no room left for Nick, it’s amazing how much stuff you can cram down the sides of a casket.

But my jokes were not appreciated, I was shushed.

But, making inappropriate comments is my coping mechanism, it’s what I do!

I remember being ushered up to see Nick laid out in his coffin at the alter. I carried my daughter with me. I looked at him, but it wasn’t him, it didn’t look like Nick at all. I felt very disconnected with this body in the casket.

Everyone was watching me, I stood there for what felt like forever, looking down at this shrunken version of Nick, not knowing what to do. I couldn’t cry, the tears weren’t there, I took his hand in mine, but he was so cold and stiff. I bent down and gave him a kiss on his forehead, whispered I love you and took my place back again with my family.

They asked if I wanted to go up again to see him, I shook my head, no I was done. I couldn’t look at him like that anymore.

Nick’s family were clawing at him, screaming incoherently, I wondered what people thought of me, not reacting the same.

Staying calm, feigning a smile, making inappropriate jokes. I didn’t know how else to be, it all felt like it was happening to someone else and I was on the outside looking in.

I felt like Nick was sitting up in the church rafters looking down at everyone carrying on, telling them ‘you’re nowhere’, one of his sayings.

I looked up often that night, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of him. All I wanted was for Nick to be there, sitting besides me, joking about everyone going up to see him in the casket, making me laugh.

But, he wasn’t there, it was just me, sitting on a church pew, feeling so heart broken.

I’ll leave it for there today, thanks for reading along and sharing my posts, means so much that people are reading our story.

Thanks also for all your comments, I love hearing from you.

Finally, please subscribe in the box below, if you want an email when a new post is published!

Til next week, Michela xx

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