The Long Goodbye

My wife and I attended another gathering for the dearly departed this week. I don’t know how you are around funerals but I’m usually a mess. It doesn’t even matter if I really knew the deceased. I find the omnipresent vibration of grief in the room to be all too palpable and it’s almost impossible for me to maintain a dry eye. If I did know the person who died and I am asked to speak, look out!  I’m afraid I have all but dissolved at various podiums and/or gravesides. Often, if the funeral service itself has been a private affair…for only the closest of friends and family..there is a get-together arranged later….something euphemistically referred to as a celebration of life. It’s a strange term. It’s the ultimate attempt to put a positive spin on death..which, as well know, has damn few things going for it.

As a married twosome we have often gravitated toward older couples for companionship. We simply get along like gangbusters with our elders. It has always been thus. I like the wisdom of their years…and , I suppose, the older couple enjoy our fresher (though rapidly tarnishing) perspective. The problem is that you’re going to be going to a lot more funerals, a lot sooner than you should, if many of your pals are pushing 85. If you, yourself, should manage to survive past that mark (as they predict many baby boomers will) you better be prepared to say goodbye to just about everyone you know, including a good number of people less fortunate, if not younger, than yourself.

And that’s when living to a ripe old age is not a blessing anymore. That’s when it can be much more of a curse. There are people who seem to do nothing but go to funerals. You have to get a little numb at some stage. There has to be a time when the tears simply don’t flow like they once did. This is a combination of fatigue and familiarity or the familiarity of fatigue…or your psyche simply kicks into auto-pilot when it comes to the matter of grief.

I don’t know if there’s an ideal time to check out but, like Custer discovered , there may not be a lot of laughs in being the last one standing.

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2 Responses to “The Long Goodbye”

  1. I loved the beginning of Benjamin Button … growing up in an “Old Folks” home he saw people depart as a normal course of life. If we were able to acquire no other attitude to death it would be nice to have that one – that death is normal. We seem to spend a lot of time trying to make ourselves believe it is anything but.

    Of course I’d sooner believe a person could be born in an ancient body and grow younger and younger through the years. It must have happened sometime.

    • I don’t know about being born in an ancient body…but I went through years worth of ribbing in my 20’s when all my friends told me that I had been born 40. They didn’t like my taste in music or beer.

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