Flowers left on the casket following funeral services for Deputy James D. Paugh at Hillcrest Memorial Park Thursday afternoon October 27, 2011.
Image from funeral via EMS Funeral Services

There are no “perfect” readings for a funeral.

I often wonder what the person whose party it is would like to be said.
How would they remember their life?
What did pass through them as their life ended?
What did they see?

We go and we wear black, for respect.
A colour we probably wouldn’t visit them in.
A colour that most likely has no symbolic presence in our relationship with them.
But we wear it anyway, and we eschew our preferred red heels, because of what everyone else at the gathering might think.

And we all stand together, and we mourn. We mourn the sudden loss, the things we never got around to doing, and the parties we never did get to hold.
We mourn that huge person-sized gap now in our lives. And we wonder who on earth will fill it.

Perhaps we begin to second-guess ourselves. Who we were before this, in relation to the deceased, may begin to fade at the edges a little. We may try to determine where we all fit within a hierarchy of grief, as though a pecking order could give this situation more stability underfoot. Because, a funeral usually means that the bottom of someone’s world has fallen out somewhere.

We hope that not saying goodbye when they lived isn’t held against us. We wonder who will leave next. We wonder why most black dresses that seem “appropriate” for mourning are ugly and shapeless. Is that to dress the grief as well? Does our grief become us in a way that we must clothe it too?

There are no “perfect” readings for a funeral.
I have no idea what I would want to be read at mine.
I just know that anything that tells me that my memories are all the keepsakes I have left is rubbish. Because I have the Cath Kidston crockery that you bought when I moved house as keepsakes. I have all the emails and the greetings cards and the birthday presents and the people you left behind as my keepsakes.

I have my “grief” as a keepsake: the shock and the ugly black dress and my favourite red heels.

There is no “perfect” reading for a funeral.
But we don’t need one. We will be there with you.

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