Sunday, October 05, 2008

after the good-byes, we move forward

We returned home last night.

Thank you again to everyone for the kind comments and emails. It was truly comforting to know that there are such good and caring people in the world.

Although this was obviously a time of sadness, there was also a great deal of laughter and comradery. There is something simultaneously heartbreaking and cathartic about sorting through your mother's possessions after she has passed. One the one hand, it feels so invasive, to be handling these items; on the other hand, it brings comfort and memories.

There was a lot of stuff to sort through - personal items from mom's room, her will, the safe deposit box which contained some perplexing items. (Note to self: itemize my cherished goods so that when I die, people know their history and their importance in my life.)

But the tears and the tough decisions were eclipsed by the stories and the laughter. As none of us are religious, we were originally planning to have a self-directed ceremony, but it turns out that nobody had the heart to officiate the service, so we contacted the vicar or whatever of a local community church who had been recommended to us.

Pastor Tim was wonderful, as it turned out. We met with him a couple of days before the funeral, and he was so perceptive and so sensitive to our needs and desires that we immediately knew that we wanted him officiating the funeral. If I ever felt the need for organized religion, it would be at a church with someone like Tim as the head. He never once got into the god-talk during the service, but instead based his talk around something called The Mourner's Bill of Rights. It was particularly comforting to me to hear him say that everyone's grief is personal and unique, that there is no set protocol to how one experiences death. Because at this point, I was still concerned with being strong for others, with doing what needed to be done, and saving my grieving for a time when I could be in my own place, by myself.

I had the privilege of writing the eulogy for my mom, and my two of my nieces, who are
currently in Korea and in Chile and obviously could not attend, sent beautiful letters of remembrance of their Oma. Their sister read these letters at the funeral, and I have no idea how she was able to read them in front of all those people, because they made me cry just reading them to myself.

About fifty people attended the funeral and the luncheon that followed, and I was saddened to see that there were only two people there of my mom's generation. At my dad's funeral seven years ago, there had been many more old folks, but I guess there are less and less of them left.

Personally I had a wonderful time, reconnecting with people, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. Many of them told lies about me to the Resident Offspring, claiming that I used to be a wild one, but we all know that I have always been the very picture of decorum, don't we?

My mom had a good death, as it turns out, and she would have been very glad to see her kids laughing and teasing each other, sharing stories and hugs with old friends, and not being able to make any decisions about who should take what. It's just the Bruederlin way.

I am going to beg your understanding if it takes me a few days to get back to visiting all of you on a regular basis. Now that the funeral is done, and we have dealt with most of the legal trappings and have made plans for how to deal with the rest, I think I will have time to do some reflecting. Now that we are no longer around people all day and all evening, I think I can find the space that I need to do my private mourning.

And that may take me a while.


Gifted Typist said...

Sounds like a lovely good-bye. Wish I had some wisdom in this respect but both of my parents are still living. My grandmother is still living at 103, 104 next month.

Toccata said...

That really did sound like a lovely good-bye. Your mother would be ever so pleased to know that the Bruederlin clan got together and had such a great time in each other's company.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

She'll be alive forever through you and yours. I didn't know her and I never met her but I'm glad she was around because she gave us you.

Anonymous said...

You really have a beautiful way of looking at things, Barb, and not just now. I wish you all the time and peace you need.
I'll be thinking of you.

mister anchovy said...

welcome back...

phlegmfatale said...

gorgeous photos, and lovely thoughts for a grace note at the end of the life of a dear one. Thinking of you, poppet.

Deb said...


bloody awful poetry said...

Just glad to know you're back, dude =) Take aaaaaaalll the time you need.

Dale said...

I just read of your news Barbara and I'm sorry to hear it. Thank you for your post, your (constant) eloquence awes me. Take your time and remember the many pals sending you happy thoughts.

Karen said...

Take your time Barbara B. There's no timeline on grieving.

jim dandy said...

So sorry to hear of your loss and I wish you the best in the times to come. This was a beautiful and touching eulogy. (Insert virtual hug here.)

Allison said...

It sounds like a wonderful good-bye, and tribute to your mom's life and legacy. As everyone else has mentioned here, you really do have a beautifully eloquent way of writing such a loss. No doubt something your mom would have been very proud of. Thinking of you guys. Hugs!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

103? That's incredible, Gifted! The odds look pretty good for your longevity too, don't they?

My mom really would have enjoyed that gathering, Toccata. She was very social that way.

That's so sweet, Dr M! And she will certainly live on in stories that we will share among the family.

Thanks so much, Justrun, you are very kind.

It's good to come back, Mister Anchovy.

The photos are stolen, Phlegmfatale, but are very representative of the sights we did see along the way.

Back at you, Deb.

Dude! You have such a refreshing way of putting things, BAP.

You are very sweet, Dale, thank you. It's good to have such pals.

There really isn't, is there, Karen? I find it comes and goes in bursts.

Thanks so much, Jim Dandy, you are so kind. Hugs are always welcome.

You're too kind, Al. I think my mom would be happy to know that I am trying to make a go of writing now.

John Mutford said...

It really seems like everyone leaned on each other during what must have been a very difficult time. I'm glad you all had one another.

Sean Wraight said...


I sincerely hope you can draw some assurance and strength from the words of this commmunity. I speak for us all when I say if there was more we could do for you we most certainly would. But for now, know that our thoughts and collective sympathies are with you.

So take your time Barbara. We're close in spirit and we're not going anywhere.

Take care,

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm really glad too, John. Every family has its issues, of course, but there was a good deal of common will at the gathering.

The blogging community, in particular the people that I have the privilege of interacting with, are among the finest and most caring people in the world, Sean. You really are a fountain of strength.

justacoolcat said...

I'll bet the eulogy was full of respect and beauty. Welcome back and take your time. The pastor was correct about grieving being different for everyone.


Glad you are all back safely. Take all the time you need my friend. I understand.

BeckEye said...

Beautiful post.

Bridget Jones said...

Oh, I bet she was there, loving it and all of you.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It was one of the best things he could have said, JustA, as the last thing one needs is guilt that you are not grieving correctly.

It's good to be back, Urban, getting back into routine instead of visiting and eating all day sure helps.

Awww thank you, Beckeye.

I think you are absolutely right, Bridget, it's exactly the sort of gathering that she would have enjoyed.