Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, here it is, five days later. I have not been altogether graceful in my conduct this week. I'm communicating badly, I'm on the nerves of at least two of the people I'm closest to, I'm behaving officiously, I'm crying at the drop of a hat...I'm also behind on a few important projects.

And tonight, I started on my quest to find out where my father's parents are buried. Without calling my ex-stepmother before I have to. Eventually I will have to, because she knows the whereabouts of my father's ashes, though she hasn't told me. It's a long story for the uninitiated, and I can fill you in if asked -- in a nutshell, I have been estranged from my father's second wife and their family for many years. This week marked the five-year anniversary of my father's death, and I'm realizing just how incomplete and inadequate the grief process has been, due in part to information withheld from me over the years. I still struggle with anger and a profound sense of helplessness as responses to a long history of conflict within that side of the family. I need to do something about it.

As awkward and odd as it may sound, I'm actually considering having a little ceremony, once I find my grandparents' graves. Moreover, I'm considering requesting a small portion of my father's ashes (a request that will doubtless cause some conflict.) Because the responsibility rests with me to appease my own need for resolution of some kind.

I don't want to approach the process angrily, as tempting as it is to do so -- neither my father nor my stepmother treated me like a family member when the time came to mourn my grandparents, with whom I was close; and the same held true when my father himself died, though that situation was complicated by problems with my husband at the time. Still -- I want to somehow return to that history and rewrite it a little. I can't make relational connections where none are wanted -- my father's children barely know me, might not even recognize me on the street, have never contacted me. If they marry or have children, I most likely won't hear of it. And there's little chance of my former stepmother and I ever desiring each other's company. But at least I could have access, in the grief of missing loved ones, to some of the rituals people need in order to move forward.

I found the bulletins from my grandparents' funerals, but no reference to interment. If I have to I can call my stepbrother out in Cambridge, with whom my relationship is a bit warmer though very inconsistent. He could tell me. But I'm reluctant to do so. I don't know how much re-opening of old wounds I'm willing to undergo here. It's a fraught process.

I have a friend who has a death anniversary this week; his mother, gone I think 11 years now. This friend is heading north to his hometown tomorrow, to help with the funeral for the father of two close friends. And, I imagine, to visit his mother's grave. I wish I could do that, though I haven't always felt this way. My friend will doubtless have an emotional weekend, and I hope the funeral is at least a good one.

What sort of ceremony would be helpful? I wonder.


Anonymous said...

Having your own funeral is a good thing. It's something to do for you, to help heal yourself and give yourself a sense of peace.

Regarding the response you may or may not get from your step mom - whatever the response you get from her, I can promise that knowing you tried will be a good feeling for you. Not trying to get the ashes will leave you feeling stuck.

Even if you don't get them, it will help you in your healing process.

The kind of funeral? - whatever you want it to be. Tell him you care about him. Not for his sake, but for yours. It doesn't make whatever he did ok. It just gives you an element of power over what he did.

If you want your friends to be with you during the service you have, just ask.

Jennifer S. said...

Thanks BC. I'm still working it out, but hope to get some answers this week.

Anonymous said...

Does the bulletin of your grandparents death mention the name of the funeral home?