It hasn’t even been two months since my dad’s funeral. Stuff surrounding those horribly difficult days is still fresh in my mind. So before my memory gets cloudy, I thought it might be interesting to write about things people say at funerals, or specifically, what people said to me at my dad’s funeral. I am interested in hearing what’s been said to some of you too. My intention is not to make this into one of those, things not to say, posts. Maybe one of those will come later. Rather, this is merely an observational sort of post. I’m just sharing some random things said and also my reaction.
One of the first things I noticed was no one seemed to want to say the word, died. No one said, I’m sorry your dad died. Nearly everyone said, I’m sorry for your loss. Probably nine times out of ten, this is what people said.
I find this fascinating. The “d” word avoidance. Deserves a post of its own someday.
After noticing my barely-holding-it-together demeanor while standing in the receiving line, one kind soul said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to speak. Just stand there. That is all you need to do.”
I wanted to give her an extra hug for saying that. No two extra hugs. At least.
Another equally kind remark, notably said by the spouse of who said the above kind words, was this, “It’s okay. Someone in your family has to be the crier.” (Yep, that would be me alright).
It felt wonderful to be given “permission” to go ahead and cry. In public. It’s interesting the effect tears have on people. This would make a good post topic someday too.
A strange sort of comment was, “Gosh, I don’t recognize you anymore. I still recognize your sisters, but not you.”
I fear this person really meant, wow, you look tough – like you’ve aged a gazillion years and your (older) sisters have not. Thank you, cancer.
I loved hearing from a few of my dad’s former students who showed up, and a couple were really former, like from his first class of 1958 or whenever it was, who said things like, your dad was such a great teacher. I always enjoyed his class and our chats in the grocery store too.
One neighbor said, “I am going to miss your dad. I still miss your mom. There were both such wonderful neighbors.”
What lovely things for her to say and for me to hear.
Someone else said, “Oh, you look just like your mom.”
Hmm… wasn’t sure how to take that one. But decided it would be a compliment.
“Our last visit was a treasure.”
What a beautiful sentiment. I loved hearing that.
“Your dad will be missed.”
Can’t hear that often enough, right?
“Well, this is the time and place to be weepy.”
Felt weird. Made me feel like, can’t I be weepy any other time or place?
A dear old friend from high school who I had not seen in years and years (my fault) said this: “Oh Nancy, I just want to stand here and hug you and hold you.”
As you might suspect, more tears.
And then of course I heard, “Well, at least he didn’t suffer.”
Shit. He suffered plenty. And how can anyone judge another person’s suffering anyway?
“It’s nice you have siblings to share your grief with.”
That felt comforting and made me realize yes, it must be hard when there isn’t someone else to share your pain with.
“It was wonderful your dad got to live independently in his own home for such a long time.”
Perfectly true and perfectly stated.
I also heard a similar sentiment not so perfectly stated, “At least your dad lived a long life.”
True, but not comforting to hear nonetheless. Those “at least” statements are damn annoying.
And then there was this one simple statement, “Your dad was a good man.”
Kinder words could not have been said.
Or truer ones.
Yes, the things people say at funerals…
Is there something said to you at a funeral (comforting or not comforting) that has always stuck with you?
Why do you think it’s so hard for people to know what to say at funerals?