Tag Archives: grief

1992. Things that quickly fade

Annette loved flowers. She always had several vases of flowers in her living room and a little retro corkless medicine bottle on the window sill of the kitchen with a sprig of rosemary and a twiglet of this and that.

When her husband died the undertaker quietly asked Annette in the cemetery if she wished to have the flowers sitting on the coffin when it was lowered or would she prefer that the flowers were placed on top of the grave once it was filled in.

“Oh God no!” exclaimed Annette, speaking slightly louder than the undertaker. “I’m taking all the flowers home!” And she did! It’s not that she didn’t love her husband. But what use are flowers dying on a grave? Flowers from the funeral arranged in her living room were a much better reminder of her sad loss and a heart-felt tribute to her husband. That way too she could appreciate in full the kindness of the people who had sent condoling flowers.

Great-aunt Matilde paid a sympathy visit, mainly because Annette always served with a mug of coffee some homemade chocolate chip cookies that used ground oatmeal, nuts, and lots and lots of extra chocolate. In fact, Annette grated into the mixture several chocolate bars more than the recipe called for.

“I think flowers at funerals are a complete waste of money,” declared great-aunt Matilde surveying the living room bouquets. “When I die I don’t want people spending money on things that quickly fade.”

As occasionally happens, great-aunt Matilde was 88. She went home and sadly passed away shortly after. Annette arranged the surviving living room flowers and took them to place on great-aunt Matilde’s filled-in flowerless grave.

Not a dime was spent on things that quickly fade.

1827. A dear husband’s passing

John always ate like a pig. He’d stuff food in his mouth and swallow it with barely a chew. That’s why after forty-two years of marriage Bernadine wasn’t the slightest bit sad when he choked to death on a pork sausage.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Bernadine mourned his passing. Her sobs at the funeral practically drowned out the droning of the vicar. At the graveside they had to hold her back from throwing herself into the hole. At the attorney’s office where the will was publicly read, Bernadine became hysterical with anguish. As one of her friends remarked to another of her friends, “It’s exhausting being around Bernadine these days as she becomes the living embodiment of grief.”

On the evening of the day of the funeral Bernadine nonchalantly dropped a delectable-looking pie into the trash. “Saved by the seat of my trousers,” she thought. “I just hope the pie doesn’t poison too many rats in the town landfill.”

1484. Good grief

Lucy and Harry had some lovely everyday things. It’s not that they were super rich. They weren’t. But over forty years or so they had collected some lovely household things.

The dinner set was getting on to be thirty-five years old. They had selected it together over a period of five days, um-ing and ah-ing over dinnerware patterns. In the end, the pattern they selected was perfect; not too ornate or extravagant but just right. They had several lovely sets of crystal glasses. Of course, one or two of each set had broken over the years, but the remaining ones still sparkled. Then there was Harry’s collection of beer mugs. There were over eighty mugs. Through the years Harry’s beer mug collection had been a lifesaver when wondering what to get him for Christmas, what to get him for his birthday. Then there were ornaments on shelves around the house. Some books and trinkets, even some wooden carvings they had picked up while on a trip to Fiji.

So many things in the house! So many memories!

And then Harry died.

Life wasn’t so easy for Lucy after that. She had to watch the pennies. In fact, to make ends meet she pawned the occasional household item. The dinner set for example fetched enough to take care of a few weeks’ rent. Harry’s collection of beer mugs fetched a handsome price. All in all, such things helped Lucy to survive until the financial complications that set in after Harry’s death were sorted out. At last things were back on an even keel.

How Lucy wished she hadn’t parted with such items of memory. Yet still, they had been her survival.

With a little more spending flexibility, Lucy began to purchase a few replacements over time. She bought new dinnerware. Oh the freedom of it! She didn’t have to compromise! She could buy the pattern she most liked. Here and there she could purchase the occasional little treat – a new picture in the dining room, for example, of a plump monk wine-tasting next to a winery vat. It was ideal, but she couldn’t help but think that Harry would not have liked it: too religious he would have said. Lucy loved it.

So it was that Lucy still missed Harry, but she had discovered a new sense of freedom. A new sense of choice! A new independence!

And then she met Archibald. How things can change in a week.

1410. In which Constantia buries her husband and buys a hat

After her husband’s death, Constantia hit the bottle. Even during the funeral in church, she was so drunk she had to be supported by her brother and brother-in-law. She kept calling out “WHA! WHA! WHAA!” which people took to be an utterance of grief, but as Constantia’s brother pointed out, it was an exclamation of exhilaration at having come into the possession of gigantic opulence.

A week or so after the funeral, Constantia decided to sober up and get on with life. Insobriety had been her way of covering up for lack of grief.

Constantia celebrated her new found fortune by buying a hat.

Poem 81: Grave stone

The gravestone says it all –
Dulcie, loved wife of Paul. She is
safe in arms of Jesus;
loved until hell freezes over;
mourned and missed forever.
Another could never replace
her face, her smile, her grace.
And Paul would take the space next her

when he goes. But I fear,
it being one hundred years ago,
we’ll clearly never know
if Paul moved on to hoe a new
and different field. For see,
lichen covers Dulcie’s name; dank
her space. Paul’s stays blank.

 

(Based on the Vietnamese luc bat form)

1314. The black of grief

Once Bernadette had decided to murder her husband she planned it meticulously. In fact, it was rather fun. Detailed planning was Bernadette’s forte. Her husband, Wilfred, was on medication. An overdose would do the trick. The most difficult part was the grief following his inexplicable suicide. Fortunately, Bernadette was a born actress. She had brought only a small lace handkerchief to the funeral and had to borrow Malcolm’s large cotton hankie. Those in the back pew of the church could hear the sobs coming from the front pew. Such a sad funeral.

Bernadette wore black for two months, that is, until she married Malcolm. They had a wonderful seven years together. I see Bernadette’s wearing black again.