Monday, December 01, 2008


I've never liked seeing dead people. I avoid "Viewings." I hate funerals that force you to look at the body, either before or after and especially during the service.

When I was 13, my Great Grandfather died. His casket was in the church, open for viewings while we the family was at the dinner before the service. We kids were being kids, running in and out of the church. Some of the boy cousins dared each other to touch Grandad. I was just dared to be in there with him--alone. But, his lips were blue, and he didn't look like I thought he should look. And, it bothered me.

After that, I learned that most of my Woodruff relatives don't do viewings. My Grandad W. told me he simply preferred remembering people as they were when they were alive and healthy and not as they usually were upon dying. Made sense to me! So, I stopped going to viewings. And I got pretty good at avoiding them.

I did not view Grandad W when he died.

I did not view Grandma W when she died.

And, then, Grandpa B died. And, dummy me...well, I somehow was drug along by Mom and Sandy as they planned his service. And, when Mike, the funeral director said, "Now, someone will need to come in tomorrow to make sure everything is ok..." I volunteered to come with Mom because Sandy couldn't be there. I thought we would be checking the programs and such.

But, instead, we were making sure Grandpa's body looked like we wanted him to look.

Oh, that was hard. But, I did it. For my Mom.

And, I survived it.

And, Grandpa looked pretty good. He hadn't been sick long enough to not look like himself.

And then, last Tuesday, when Grandma died,

Mom called me--10 minutes after she'd died, right after Mom got the call. Mom asked me...well, she didn't have to ask, but I agreed to meet her and Dad at the Nursing Home.

But Daddy didn't get there as quickly as Mom and I did.

So, I went into Grandma's room with Mom so she could say "Good-bye." If Daddy had been there, I would have waited outside. Cause I just didn't know how I was going to react.

And, of course, I saw her. It didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I can't say she looked good but she looked like she was asleep...with her mouth open, like usual. So, she looked like Grandma.

Or like Grandma has looked for the past several months.

And, it didn't really bother me.

So, either I'm growing up and am able to deal with death and bodies, or I've finally realized that death is a part of life and it's simply another natural step.

I mentioned to my Dad that it just didn't bother me like I expected it too. And, wise man that he is, he said: "I've come to realize that the body really is a shell and that the person I knew--who used to live in that body--is long gone. We're just dealing with what's left; and it's not so hard when you realize that."

And, he's right.

It's not something I want to do all the time, but now, I won't avoid viewings. I won't go out of my way to go, but when I have to go, it will be ok.

1 comment:

agent713 said...

I agree. I don't like seeing bodies either, but I'll do it.

My maternal grandma died when I was 16. I was fine all through the service until the opened the casket for the viewing. I don't know if it's normal or if her casket was different but I could see her while I was sitting in the pew. I wasn't prepared for that and I broke down.

We had a formal viewing for my paternal grandma. That was odd to me. Just a lot of akward feeling people. I touched her when it was my turn. I don't know why. She was COLD! That shocked me. I mean it shouldn't have, it was a few days after she died and her body had obviously been refrigerated but now that penetrating coldness is what I remember of her earthly body :(

For all the funerals I've been to lately, it's either been closed casket or cremation. Not so bad IMO.