Every Monday, Carrie of [carrotspeak] posts about the good deeds she has done each week, in order to make a difference (no matter how big or small) in another person's life. This week she wrote a touching post about a visit she paid to her grandmother, who's very poorly at the moment. You can read about it here. I could so relate to what she wrote about not knowing what to say. I was in a similar position last week too. Carrie invites the readers of her blog to respond with a post of their own, about how they have been making a difference each week. Here's mine.
Last week I attended the funeral of Dearest Friend's older brother, who passed away three days after Christmas. The saddest part was that he chose to die. He was thirty-nine.
The last few weeks have been hard ones for Dearest Friend and her family, and they have all been in my thoughts and prayers. With the people to inform, affairs to put in order, and the funeral to be arranged, they have had to put their grief temporarily on hold. I wasn't able to see much of Dearest Friend during this time, but she did invite me to the funeral.
I didn't know her brother well at all. I met him a few times, and have some memories of him, but Dearest Friend told me most of what I knew of him. I don't think I ever held a conversation with him. But I still wanted to be there, both to pay my respects, and to be there for a beloved friend.
The funeral took place on a chilly winter afternoon. The air was moist and icy, and I joined the assembly of friends and relatives outside the chapel, shivering both from the cold and the atmosphere. Eventually we moved inside the chapel, which wasn't much warmer, and took our seats, waiting for the imminent procession. My other best friend, Darling Girl, arrived after I had taken my seat amongst strangers. She and her mother were the only two people I knew in the chapel.
I curled my hands in my lap, already feeling my emotions stir. With the opening melody of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' we all rose, and as I watched Dearest Friend and her family traipse in behind the coffin, the tears threatened, and I began to cry for a man I hardly knew.
The service was fairly bleak and, despite the moving, sometimes humorous account about the life of the man, the obituary was very much centred on his mode of death. Indeed, the lady that spoke seemed to place great emphasis on this; more than was necessary. Dearest Friend and her family were seated several rows in front of me, and my eyes rested on them for most of the ceremony. They were, naturally, very upset, and it just broke my heart to watch them fighting their grief.
Afterwards we filed outside, and gathered in the car park to pay our respects to the family. It was, if possible, colder than it had been before. I could see Dearest Friend sitting alone, shivering with her suppressed grief and the cold. Not sure what to say, I threw my arms around her, and perhaps the gesture said more than words. I held her for a long time, wanting desperately to take away some of her burden of grief. 'Thank you for coming,' was the first thing she said through her tears. I know that there was very little I could do, but just being there seemed to make a small difference to her day. I stood by her side until most of the guests had gone, and only left when she and her family seemed to be returning to the car.
I have spoken to her since, and I am going to see her next week. She seems to be doing okay, but I know it will be a while before the hurt and grief begin to heal. Her great nephew was born shortly after the funeral, and I'm sure this will be a positive distraction in the lives of her and her family.