Life goes on

It is amazing, the amount of work that needs done when someone dies. It is also amazing that it is possible to get it all done despite being sad. There is an enormous industry out there, ready to help, and it is indeed a help to have someone else sort out and organize all of the bits and pieces.

And still there is so much to decide. You always have this nagging feeling you are doing something wrong or are forgetting something very important. But taking care of some of the tasks are actually very helpful in coming to terms with the death. Speaking with the pastor for over an hour about the life and times of the deceased helps remember the good times and not these past few years of pain.

The day of the funeral was overcast and rainy - perfect weather, if you will. We got to the church a bit too early - luckily, as we got one of the last parking places. The church was packed! We stayed in the car until just before the begin so that we could be ushered in last. There was the casket we had picked out, you imagined father-in-law's body in there wearing the clothes we sent for him. I put down a basket of apples I had picked in his garden that morning. There were so many floral arrangements - in a way a shame to have had people spend so much money for flowers for just an hour, but they looked very good indeed.

The grandsons looked so grown up in their suits as they stood amongst us. My son decided at 9am (the funeral was at 11) that he would prefer to have a suit and not jeans for the funeral. We dashed to the clothing store the next village over - and wouldn't you know his luck, they had one suit in 46, a bit too big for him, but it looked very smart just the same.

We took our seats and the pastor commenced the ceremonies. There was organ music, a singer, we sang 2 songs, there was a long eulogy (very well done and just a few minor details wrong) and a prayer before the blessing. The hard part was saying goodbye, standing before the casket. We finally followed the preacher down the aisle, and then everyone streamed out to offer their condolences. It took a very long time because there were so many people, and it was really good to see all of these people taking the time to come. He was really a good friend, relative, neighbor, and had touched many lives.

They had us go down to the plot so that they could remove the casket, the pallbearers wearing two-cornered felt hats. They had laid out the flowers in the rain at the grave site, so that we could have another look. We lingered, not wanting to leave, but our guests were waiting in the village pub where we invited any who wanted to come to have sandwiches and cake and coffee with us.

More than 70 people came, luckily the owner of the pub had no problems getting more sandwiches made at the drop of a hat. After eating everyone got a schnapps (we even let the grandsons have a "Baileys", which is very sweet, even though they are not of drinking age). My mother-in-law managed to propose a short toast, and we all drank to the memory of my father-in-law.

Soon after the guests began to leave. Soon just the closest family were left. We didn't really want to go back to the house where my father-in-law had died, but the servers had cleaned up everything but where we were sitting, so we picked up the leftovers and trudged up the road in the rain.

But somehow, now that the funeral was over, we found that we really could carry on. We sat at the table planning the internment of the urn and reading all of the letters people wrote. If you hear of some one dying, please, by all means, send the bereaved a letter. It was such a comfort to read all these cards, some with really great messages, some just signed. My mother-in-law has read and reread them many times already.

Life goes on - back in Berlin we discover we forgot to cancel all sorts of planned activities, oh well, this is survivable too. Back to work!

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