Open Arms or Armor?

The funeral is tomorrow.

I’m unsure whether I want to go in a full suit of armor, or completely open and receptive. My personality is leaning toward the armor instinctively, but there are a couple things that are encouraging that choice…

The main one being my Great Aunt… let’s call her Great Aunt May. She is already on one of my last nerves and I haven’t even MET the lady yet. She kicked it off on the wrong foot over the summer when she made clear that she expected all the family – including me – to fly out to B.C. to meet this Great Grandmother that I didn’t know existed.

Now here’s where I’m kind of grateful that I have evolved as a person. The old me totally would have been frantic and guilty and felt obligated to scrounge up money or put a ticket on my visa just to fly out and see people that were never there for me. Wanna know my response?

“I’ll send her a letter if someone gives me her mailing address. But I have a hard enough time affording a plane ticket to visit my own family.”

I never did get that mailing address…

Anyway she’s kicked it up a notch, she asked if her and my other Great Aunt could stay at my boyfriend’s mom’s place. When I made that clear that it couldn’t work out (and that it wasn’t my home to just open up to relatives I’ve never met before) she moved on. And then asked me to pick her and my other great aunt up at the airport and drive them the hour or so out to the town where the funeral will be. When I responded that no, I don’t own a car and couldn’t do that, with apologies even…. she said “Well do you have any idea what a cab would cost from X to Y?” Infuriated I responded “Why no. I don’t. Because like I said. I take transit.”

So I guess I’m a bit on edge and defensive going into this. And I don’t want to be! I want to be open enough that my sister and brother can approach me and that we can meet and bond and they can know undoubtedly that I am there for them.

And here’s where the story gets all Hollywood Reality TV: I don’t know if my Mom’s abusive boyfriend will be at the funeral. Furthermore, I don’t know that I possess the self control to not punch him square in the nose should he approach me. Or my siblings

So it seems the regular cheer up techniques aren’t going to work out for me.

I painted my nails. I’ve listened to music that doesn’t allow me to wallow. I’ve allowed myself moments to be sad. But after talking to my aunt and uncle, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s mom I’ve come to the conclusion that:

Grieving never stops.

It might become fewer and fewer between. It might become bittersweet, and it may stop hole-punching into your lungs when it hits. 

I’ve had my heart broken before. I know it gets better. But I don’t know what to say to the six year old who lost our mother. I don’t know what to say to the preteen girl who looks like a mirror image of me at her age, with a matching anger and hopelessness already blooming across her life. I don’t know how to connect to the man who lost his daughter, and doesn’t know this granddaughter.

I don’t know how to answer “How are you?”

I don’t know what to say to “My condolences.”

And I know I’m not alone. I know this isn’t something that I’m the only person dealing with. I know all of you readers have experience loss.

What did you do? How did you respond to family and friends? What did you tell yourself to keep moving?

“Keep moving” has worked pretty well for me this far. Just don’t stop. It allows me to collapse into bed at the end of the day, into the welcoming fog of sleep.

I wish you a cheery Christmas coffee, some cookies and warm things for the snow. 

Off to tidy the room and get some sanity before bed!

xo

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