It happens whenever someone dies. After the initial shock passes, you start thinking about when the wake and funeral will take place, including whether it will get in the way of your work, family, or entertainment plans. We feel selfish and petty when we get this way, but it’s human nature.
Some of the youngsters in my life went through this as we prepared for the wake and funeral of Nana Ruth. There was the quest for perfect attendance at school that wasn’t realized because of the funeral. There was the grumbling over fun and games getting put on ice. We’re getting similar discontent as we prepare for the wake and funeral of Grammie Arline.
It drives us adults crazy, and we try to teach the kids that life’s unfair and we’re called to put our wants aside in times like these. But we grown-ups aren’t much better.
I don’t have to look far to find an example.
My great-grandmother died hours before my 25th birthday. Her daughter, my nana, died on Columbus Day weekend in 2003. Papa died the day before a major relaunch of the newspaper I was working for at the time. Sometimes, I grin as I think of how my grandparents were probably getting back at me for not visiting them often enough. They could be deliciously devious that way.
My brother died days into a diet and exercise program I was obsessed with at the time. In my 13-year-old mind, that program was vital to my future as one of the cool kids who got all the girls in junior high. As a 26 year old, I was again on the path to fitness when my best friend died. From there, the binge eating and escape into work was off the rails.
Inconvenient deaths, mucking up all my best-made plans.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained a lot more perspective on these things. I’ve slowly learned that life can be disrupted without being derailed completely. In the old days, when my life lost control following death, it was usually my own doing.
Today, I’m better at temporarily putting things on hold, honoring the dead and then moving on.
The youngsters in my life will learn that lesson in time.
Hopefully, they won’t have to get their hearts broken too much along the way. But in the end, that’s in God’s hands.