free the pen, a blog for writers

June 1, 2017


Filed under: memoir — freethepen @ 2:51 pm

Print Let’s face it, we have all been to a funeral some time during our lives. Funerals are usually dreaded events. We don’t like thinking of having to go to one and when the time comes, we don black clothing and hope we don’t make a scene with our tears. Funerals, however, are times of mixed emotions, both tears and laughter. It isn’t just the loss of life we experience at funerals but how a life was lived.

When my father died I sat in the back of the room with four cousins laughing and telling stories about my father and his brother, who often pulled pranks together.

I happened to glance at the front of the room where my nine-year-old nephew sat on a couch pouting and angrily staring at us. I went over to him and asked him to tell me what he was feeling. He said we shouldn’t be laughing at grandpa’s funeral. I explained that we were heartbroken too, but remembering all the ways grandpa made us laugh was as important as the sadness. I started sharing some of the stories with him and soon he was smiling too at the things his grandpa did.

When it was my turn to go up to the coffin to say goodbye I stared at my father’s strong hands. I touched them and unlike the usual warmth and strength they always emitted they were cold and hard. I would never feel their warmth and security again and it broke my heart in all the vulnerable places they once gave me strength and reassurance. I could feel those hands holding me close to him as we crossed the street and how on too many winter nights he showed me how his fingers bled as his skin cracked from dryness.

I was furious with the funeral parlor for dying his hair jet black. My father was 72, his hair was mostly grey. My sister told me she had to give the funeral parlor a picture of him. Why? Didn’t they have him? And there was never a photo of him that looked like the man in the coffin.

What memories do you have about a funeral? What do funerals mean for you? Sometimes people have memorials instead of funerals. Write your memories and write them with authentic feelings and details.

Keep the pen moving,



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