My dad died early this morning.
Having to fight my normal urge to use sarcasm, humor, optimism and light-heartedness is almost as tough as sitting beside him, holding his hand and watching him slowly withdraw and diminish.
Death is the great leveler: everyone eventually succumbs to the indignity of mortality.
While it seems like all year long we’ve been immersed in discussions and considerations of death in a broad and impersonal way because of the pandemic, the dying of one particular individual blows all those vague and hypothetical conversations out of the water.
Relationships are complex and people are tricky and hard to pin down. At the end, though, they are simply humans who may be suffering and scared and deserving of dignity. My respect for those whose job it is to care for people at the end of their lives is permanently changed. Having not experienced this firsthand prior to my dad, I am awestruck by their ability to remain positive, yet realistic, professional, yet compassionate, helping their patients transition out of this life while also helping them retain some dignity and comfort.
It’s a tumultuous time, being bedside with a person who is dying, so many emotions running through you. Happy memories, times of disappointment, feelings of regret, doubts and fears.
And finally, there is release and equanimity.
Please Keep Your Politics Out of My Father’s Funeral
My dad’s funeral was last week.
While everyone on both sides of our family are well-read and take a keen interest in the US political process, mostly we keep our views to ourselves when we know they differ with other family members’ opinions. And by and large, it’s a harmonious situation, with politics being a topic we simply avoid when talking together.
It’s hard to think of another time in memory that has been more divisive: between the pandemic, the various societal uprisings and the presidential election, tensions are running high and nerves are certainly frayed. Based on all that, some family gatherings might be a powder keg of potential disagreement.
Is this the environment you want to walk into wearing a printed mask devoted to your favorite presidential candidate?
I kid you not, this happened at my father’s funeral last week.
Responsible for writing and reading the eulogy at my dad’s family-only grave side socially-distanced funeral service, I was disgusted, appalled, distracted and distressed having to look at a political commercial while trying to concentrate on honoring my father without bursting into tears.
Why would someone do this? How could someone think this is ok?
Don’t be like this person. Be respectful, think of others first, or just think… we can start with that.