Sunday, January 31, 2010

An odd perspective

Yesterday I attended a graveside service for an elderly lady from my church. She actually died on December 18th but because the weather had been so bad her son decided to wait on the burial and the memorial service.

The day was sunny but very cold (12 degrees with a little wind). I drove about an hour to get there. There was a very small gathering. Maybe 15. And most people there were 75 and older.

The chairs were set up, the green blanket covered the ground and on top on the mound was a plain brown wrapped box about 6 inches high by 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Here was Marilyn.

I could not take my eyes from this ugly box. I kept thinking how her 80 years were spent and how hard she worked. How she had nothing in the end and all that was left were her ashes in this box. I wanted to cry.

I know she is with God and no longer has to deal with the results of a stroke, or her Parkinson's disease or her existence in a nursing home. And for that I a grateful.

But it just seemed so depressing and cold.

The service lasted about 15 minutes and the Pastor read the usual Bible passages. Then it was off the the Church for the Memorial.

As I left the cemetery, I felt empty and spent my trip back to town contemplating my own mortality and wondering if I will end up in a plain brown box. Well. at least that I know won't happen because I have already paid for a pink cloisonne urn that I hope will remind people who I was in life.

The Memorial Service was better and there were pictures of Marilyn smiling and healthy - like I would like to remember her.

Death can be an unhappy thing but the celebration of the life that just ended should be joyous. I hope mine will be.

I will miss Marilyn.


  1. That would make me sad as well. I would rather be spread around a place that is beautiful than to have the ashes in a brown box.

    Actually, now that I think of it, I've already told my girls that I want to be stuffed so that way, I can spend 6 months with each of them. They can ride the diamond lanes in their car and take me to the hairdresser and even to the mall.

    They laugh when I say that but it's a light way of looking at death.

    I'm sorry to hear about Marilyn passing away and I know that she will be missed but just think, no more pain!!!

  2. Suz, me again. Yes, it would be fine to share the poem with your friend. I'm glad that you liked it.

  3. I agree--it should be a celebration. There is a bittersweetness when you lose someone you love--but when you know their destination it's impossible not to share the joy they most suredly are experiencing in heaven!

    And your pink urn will definitely bring smiles!

    Thanks for visiting me, it's wonderful to "meet" you!

  4. Oh my goodness, that Simone has me laughing out loud!

    I've told my family I want my ashes scattered from a helicopter over a particular bay in Hawaii. They told me that would not be too pleasant for the people swimming below and I had to agree. So then I said I want them to fly over that bay and then out to sea where they can scatter my ashes. Still they look at me as if I'm crazy.

    If all else fails, I may steal your idea of a pink urn!