Speaking my father in law's funeral.As I write this post, the funeral for my father in law has started. For those of you who know me only via the blogosphere, a few weeks ago my father in law had a stroke in his home. At 89 years old, he had been living in his house in the mountains since retirement. Most of his contact with the outside world was the Sunday visit from my brother-in-law Mike, so we have no real way of knowing how long he lay there.
He also had very high prostrate cancer numbers. He was very clear about not wanting to linger in a broken body, and two weeks to the day after being admitted to the hospital, he died.
Making the decision about whether or not to go to his funeral was a struggle. My husband had gone and spent one of the two weeks he survived with him- he was there when it mattered. Two of our three kids said it would "make them too sad" to go. And, the important thing to me, the funeral did not seem like a true memorial event.
My father in law lived a very isolated life. After his wife's death ( about 16 years ago) he pretty much stayed in his little hand built home in Sierra Nevada national Forest. For some manner of years he went down to town once a week for bowling, but eventually even that fell by the wayside. Then leaving to visit family, even. He belonged to no faith or fraternal organisation. He didn't get together with old work buddies.
His funeral is a short graveside service, performed by a total stranger from the funeral home, with no one but immediate family in attendance. As far as I know, there will be no reception.
My husband chose, as he did with his aunt's funeral, so send flowers. I also hope that I don't have to tell people not to send flowers to my funeral or grave. I would consider that a waste and would want them to spend that money fighting hunger and homelessness. Myself, I would have rather donated money to a charity. But I cannot think of one my father in law supported- I don't know, but this may be the flip side of his "make your own way" mindset. If my husband is any indication it probably is.
While I did not offer my husband my opinion and would have supported 100% and decision he made regarding going or not going, I find no meaning and only sadness in this. My father in law was beloved by his family, took care of his own, paid his own way, and lived and died om his own terms. Yet...I cannot imagine living my life in such a way that I gave so few people the opportunity to celebrate my life when it had passed. I know- or am quite sure- this level of isolation was his choice. Yet I hope when my end comes that the church is full, and loud, and there are wonderful chocolate things to eat afterwards. (I've also wished for years to have my memorial service end with a rousing sing-a-long to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" , but that may not work with the whole church service thing). I hope that when the time comes that someone speaks my death, that person will say I was well loved by many.