You went to a funeral, and then you went home

_MG_8606You heard some bad news from a friend, relative, social media, church, or maybe in a gossip circle.  However you heard, you immediately felt bad, asked how to help, donated time, food, money or prayers.  Whatever you did, the family was grateful, even if they didn’t say it.  They were blessed by your gifts.

Life goes back to normal.  The family sits on your heart.  You pray, you ask, you follow the updates.  You did what you could.

One day, you heard the really bad news:  Death won and a family lost. Forever.

let me be sadOnce again, you prayed, you helped, gave what you could.  Even if you didn’t know it, the family was thankful for you, your help, your prayers, your love and your support.

You attended the funeral, cried some real tears, laughed some real laughs, enjoyed the memories of the one who is gone.  Finally, you hugged the ones who lost the most.

Once the funeral was over, and the day was done, you went home.  Back to life, back to love, back to those who make your world complete.  You went to a funeral, and then you went home.

We all lose, but someone that day, went to a funeral and didn’t want to go home.

Someone that day, drove home to the couch, the bed, the house that is forever empty. Life is not like it once was and never will be again.  Where there was once laughter, sits an empty chair.  The couch is bigger, the blankets and pillows are extra.  There are empty shoes, clothes, toiletries that might never be used.  Bags sit. Drugs disposed.  So much to do and SO MANY MEMORIES left to be remembered, processed, and grieved.

Time passes and the wounds are not healed.  Sometimes, life feels normal and OK.  Then a birthday, holiday, celebration occurs and the loss is real all over again.  Sometimes life is normal, and for no reason at all, the LOSS comes right back, like it happened again.

There is loneliness, emptiness, and tears.   “Public faces” put on a show, and comfort the ones who interact.   “Home faces” are real, raw, and honest.  There are headaches, stomach aches, and countless mistakes made all because the grief lives in place of the person who completed a family.  Not to mention the questions, the hurt, the anger that sits because it is hard to face.

IMG_0020Days pass, holidays pass, milestones completed the grief lives, despite how the family looks in public.  Remember, it’s a face, a show, an act, it’s not always real; however, it’s not always fake.

When you go to a funeral, and are allowed to go home to life, remember that at least one person goes home to a new life that was NOT asked for, but handed to them.  Give those people more than sympathy or judgement; give them an endless amount of time to grieve in their own way.  For that one act of kindness and grace, they will be forever grateful for you.

About Courtney Fitzgerald

I am a wife, mother, teacher, photographer and writer. Trying to figure out this thing called life. While the road twists and turns, I am loving the journey.
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41 Responses to You went to a funeral, and then you went home

  1. Honest Mom says:

    Yes, Courtney. This. Thank you for writing this. I felt this way for a long time after my dad died. The grief goes on, even as everyone else’s lives go on. I get it.

    I love your line about the way a grieving person looks relatively normal on the outside: “it’s not always real; however, it’s not always fake.” That’s exactly it. There are moments, days, weeks when everything seems okay. But then it’s not. And you grieve again.

    Take care of yourself. xoxo

  2. Oh, Courtney – such important words. I’m sure they were difficult to write, just as they’ll be difficult for some people to read, and that’s how you know they needed to be said. xoxo

  3. Time and grace. They are yours.

  4. Leah says:

    So very true. I’ve been the person that didn’t want to go home – twice. Lost my dad and my brother. Your words struck a chord with me so deeply. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  5. Jessica says:

    Courtney I am crying my eyes out. I have thought so often about you going back to that home and wished that there was something I could do to make it a little bit easier. I’m always, always here for you and think of your grief and strength every day.

  6. Becky C says:

    This is so how I’ve been feeling these past 11 months since my Dad died…..thank you so much for your words! Your post today on FB about perception was so right on!!! Thank you Courtney…..I send much love to you and your kiddos!! Please know you are always in my heart!

  7. Liz Cooper says:

    So true, people forget that funerals are only a part of the grieving process…to those who go to a funeral it is “one day” to those who have lost a loved one it is the rest of their life. Life doesn’t ever go back to “normal” when you lose someone….it is and always will be different. Grief is also such a personal thing. No two people grieve the same way or for the same amount of time and there is no “wrong way” to grieve. Yes, there are productive ways and not productive….but we all do it differently. Grief is a journey that no one is ready to go on and no one knows where it will lead you. I hope you are given a lot of grace a lot of time and most of all lots of love. No one has a road map for grief. I hope you find many (and even yourself) to help you along the way to find your own path.

  8. Thanks for sharing this Courtney. I have no words, other than thank you for sharing.

  9. Cathy Driver says:

    Well said, Courtney. It’s exactly how I’ve felt for almost 20 years after my son died. Nobody really understands the highs & lows the grieving process takes us, unless they have travelled that dark path. I think of you & the kids often & I’m sorry you guys have to experience this painful loss. Death changes lives in an instant….it t sucks!

  10. That line got to me, too – about it not always being real but not always being fake. I so relate to that. Thanks for writing this.

  11. Thank you for writing this. Love you.

  12. People definitely forget that you are never “done” grieving. And it’s so hard and hurtful when they do forget that. Your words are always important and so eloquently written. xoxo

  13. So true, Courtney. Thank you. xoxo

  14. Anna says:

    Love you Courtney!

  15. Laurie says:

    Thanks for saying what most people don’t understand and I wish more people could without actually going through it…it’s been along time since we lost my Dad and there are times when it still hurts, but more so for my Mom and people think because it’s be X amount of years she should be “over it” and I know that no matter how many years it is she will never stop missing him. <3 My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  16. Meredith says:

    I love you and I’m sorry. Wish you weren’t so right about this all…xo

  17. Barbara says:

    In 4 more days it will be my Birthday, a day I will always remember my son Travis getting up not well, and not being able to walk, Three short months later he died with Lukemia. In 9 days I will never forget the call that came telling me my husband had been killed in a car accident. Many many years ago, many hours of pain, many days wondering if I would survive. I was 24 when Travis died, 37 when Denny died. I do know what you are talking about, my Dad died 9 years ago, and my sister 10 years ago! Much grief. Grief comes in different forms though. Grief is watching as a loved one suffer, and not knowing how to help them. Hoping somehow you might be able to comfort them. Loss of a love, there is so many forms. Someone being innocent and being accused of a crime they have not committed. Suffering the pain of perse-cution at another’s hand. Being misunderstood, and being lashed out at because they don’t. I have known them all, but I have known the grace of God, the grace of a Savior, who loves me and has comforted me through it all. Who because of Him and His Father, who sent Him and my comforter the Holy Spirit I have and will always prevail. His Word is true, and His love is real, and I know it because of my relationship with Him. I know that I know that I know.

  18. funnyisfamily says:

    This is beautiful and raw and real. Thank you for being a voice for so many others.

  19. melissafaithbodin says:

    This was so beautiful and so true. Thank you for sharing.

  20. cyndie says:

    This is so true and powerful. Beautiful words and exactly describes how all of us who have lost a dear loved one felt when we came home and tried to go on with picking up the shattered pieces. I remember sitting at the funeral of my step dad, whom I was very close to, next to my shattered mother…listening to everyone chatter and laugh and go on with their lives and I was so angry that they got to go home to their normal lives and we had to go home to an empty house. I remember thinking that they didn’t get it…thank you for putting it into words so those who haven’t been there can understand how the rest of us feel.

  21. One year my husbands mother left our lives due to a prolonged illness, three months later, our daughter was married and four months later my adopted mother passed. My emotions were running the full spectrum. Fortunately I was surrounded by many other loved ones. I still keep going back, let the tears fall where they may and slowly, deliberately get beck into life again. I know exactly what you expressed hereCourtney.

  22. Dana says:

    This was a great post. Thank you. I love the part about letting us grieve with an endless amount of time and that we will be grateful for that. That is so true. I lost my husband in October 2013 and I am needing time to grieve on my own schedule not someone else’s.

  23. Jim B says:

    Very well said. I lost my wife a week before Thanksgiving 2013 and I feel everything you mentioned. It’s going to take time with a lot of help from the Lord to get thru this. It is excruciating and gut-wrenching as you well know. Thanks you again and God bless and comfort you!

  24. Lawrence walz says:

    Lost my6year old son 6 months today.

  25. Mickey Jones says:

    I am still there and trying to get past the loss of John the year 2000 and my Daughter Loni in 1012 and life goes on you try not to show your sorrow.

  26. Diana says:

    Thank you for your words

  27. Patricia wells says:

    I lost my 20year old daughter 8 1/2 years ago. I look so normal on the outside but still so broken on the inside. This describes grief so well. Thank you!

  28. Julie says:

    I lost my dad the 8th of this month. I think about him every single day and some days it’s happy thoughts and some days I’m filled with grief. I can’t see that ever changing.

  29. Alvie Kernells says:

    So true……lost my sister and her 1 year old granddaughter in an automobile accident 2 and a half weeks ago and I can’t imagine my life ever being normal again. The pain is something I can’t even begin to describe but yet I get up go to work and try to put on a happy face. People try to help by saving “It’s going to be ok”. But it is not ok , it ill never be “ok” again, nothing will ever be the same. We will move on but there will always be part of all of us that miss them dearly and a bit of sadness in every occasion we celebrate without them. Thanks for this post because I think it speaks volumes on this subject!

  30. We are mourning the recent death of our mother, and are preparing for her funeral this week. This article is just what my dad is going through. Thank you for putting this into words.

  31. Maribeth Schulz says:

    I lost my husband on January 21, 2005. Recently it was nine years since he died. I still have times when I cry because I miss him so very much. It takes time, but memories are so wonderful to have. Bless you and thank you for your wonderful message.

  32. Pingback: What Can You Do After the Funeral | lovingasoldier.com

  33. Cancer sucks. ( can I say this hear)
    But just reading this reminds me that forever love is real and obtainable.
    There are times when I think of certain people who have left this world for the next and it does really feel like a dagger to the chest.
    But if I close my eyes really tight I can feel them, especially my granny Vega, the warmth of her skin, the smell of comino on her clothes from cooking dinner, and the sound of her hairbrush whisping through her long, long hair always kept in a bun even in rest excluding the nightly brushing. God bless memories.

    Cancer sucks. It robs us of so many things. I can’t get my head around why we can’t fix it if we are planning sending humans to Mars.

    I keep a book in my desk, its my Forever Book. I will add you to it this day and each night before I sleep I will send a bit of my heart your way to you and your family.

    Pam

  34. totally ignore my lack of spell check, but I have this boy next to me with an enormous Lego creation and I was kind of frightened it would fall on me while I was typing. lol

  35. My sister lost her 14 week old baby three years ago. In the years since I’ve had a baby and she’s had two more. But we have not forgotten or gotten over the empty seat and uncelebrated birthday. Nor do we ever stop thinking about what could have been. Thank you for writing this, for sharing so eloquently what it looks like from the other side of the situation.

  36. Meg says:

    Thank you Courtney. Beautifully written. My husband is also sick with cancer although he is doing well now, a time will come. I hope my kids and I can be a strong as you.

  37. Beautifully written Courtney. It’s honest and raw just like grief. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband. ~Jennifer

  38. lrconsiderer says:

    I remember reading this when you first wrote it. I remember feeling stunned by its power, and as though I had no place writing a comment here, or intruding with my thoughts, meagre as they were.

    NOW I will intrude, to share my disappointment that BlogHer did not deem this worthy – because there is such power in this piece to make people THINK, hard, about a very true and important factor which most funeral attendees will all too happily gloss over.

    Bravo. And as ever, I’m sorry you have cause to write this kind of thing.

  39. Ohmyheart that picture takes my breath away. Beautiful post. Powerful message. I hate that Blogher didn’t pick this post. Shame on them.

    God bless your precious grieving heart. I will remember this always, for every loss and funeral I attend- I constantly think about those precious souls who are left on this earth without their loved one. You included, dear one. You included.

  40. Marilyn says:

    I’ve was this entry a few times now. I can relate. Although I didn’t lose a spouse. I lost my Mother. In 2001. I was 21. Carrying on in my adult life, graduating, getting married and raising my son. I’m still waiting to feel “better”.

    I am sending you the largest hug I can muster. Your children are ap very beautiful and you are so very blessed to be their momma. You make me proud.

    Thinking of you and your children and praying that you all get to enjoy some laughter, peace and oodles of love.

    Marilyn xo

  41. Bonnie Lacey says:

    Hi Courtney, just read this piece on FB via huff post – so true every word. Lost my 16-yr old only daughter almost ten yrs ago in a car wreck, and I’m a completely different person today. I would have NEVER expected the total life devastation, the loss of friends and family who couldn’t deal w my pain, the raw cracking open of my very soul, and its rebirth as a less afraid, less mask-wearing woman. I mean, bring it, life. What worse can happen? I am a much more compassionate, less judgmental person today b/c I know (really know) that behind all those happy masks are people in pain just like me. I don’t even know when you lost your Husb, but believe this. It IS a life sentence w no chance of parole, and you WILL adjust. One day, a memory or a found item will give you a warm feeling instead of a flood of tears. You WILL prevail b/c you have to. This is the stuff of life on earth, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience it. With very much empathy,
    Bonnie

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