Open Doors

It was Uncle Kevin’s funeral today. I didn’t want to go. All week I’ve been dreading it, I just cannot cope with the amount of collective grief at funerals and so I decided I wouldn’t attend but then I got in the shower this morning, realised I was being selfish and that actually I should be there for Kevin’s memory, for my cousins and for my Dad and decided I would go. No sooner had I decided to go when Annie started with diarrhoea which left me the dilemma of trying to find someone to watch her for a few hours or not going. After discussions with Tom, where he said he could watch her, I decided yet again to stay home.

I thought long and hard throughout the day about my inability to cope and I realised that’s not entirely true. I coped fine at other funerals, yes they’re painful but they’re painful for everyone. I realised I didn’t want to go because of two other reasons.

1. I hate showing such a strong emotion as grief, and I hate crying in front of people. I could cry in front of Phil but it was never as painful and profound as the pain you feel at someone’s death or at seeing other people’s pain. I literally can’t stand the thought of being so open with my emotions in front of others that I’m not deeply intimate with, although now I’ve written that I need to question that too as actually I never show tears or emotion such as grief in front of the kids and I’m really close to them. I guess I’m ashamed to cry, to show that side of me to anyone, other than Phil and the only reason I can do it with him is because of his non-judgement. My fear, therefore, is being judged which is ridiculous, especially at a funeral. Does this hark back to all the years of my Mum, Dad and sisters ridiculing me for crying as a child? I was quite an emotional child, tears were always springing from my eyes for the slightest thing. Over and over I would get laughed at for them. I do remember clearly my family citing the verse about the day a baby is born, referring to the fact I was born on a Wednesday: Wednesday’s child is full of woe. My natural instincts as a child were a source of mirth for my family.

2. Kevin’s death, and Edna’s just three weeks before that are a stark reminder of my Dad’s mortality and it frightens me beyond words. I’ve always taken Mum and Dad’s presence for granted but the fact is they are getting older (although to me 63 and 65 is not old at all) and so their deaths are coming closer. I’ve never given any thought until now about them dying but losing an auntie and an uncle, and seeing my cousins’ grief so palpable on Facebook has really brought it home to me. One day I will lose my Mum and my Dad for good. That day, I always thought would be a long time off but Kevin was only 67. That’s no age. And so it reinforces that it could happen at any time. Going to Kevin’s funeral would have somehow brought it even closer to me and I can’t deal with that right now. I need to hold on to my Dad and my Mum as they are now – well, healthy, alive and vibrant. To be tainted by the grief and pain of a funeral brings it closer in my fears.

However, Kevin’s death, as sad and sudden as it was, has given me one gift, a positive where you’d think there wouldn’t be any. It has shown me how vital it is to just let go of all of my pain, anger and hurt towards my parents and to just love and enjoy them exactly how they are, for who they are right now while I still can. It’s time for me to love my parents unconditionally and to put the last 40 years of bullshit behind me because for all the ‘bad’ that I’ve held on to from my childhood, there was a lot of good too and a lot of positives that I’ve failed to see until now.

Death, while devastating, is the catalyst of new beginnings. It has the ability to open doors. I’m going to make this true for me. Kevin’s death has shown me how much I do love my Mum and my Dad, how important they are to me and how much I value them. Kevin’s death has opened doors.

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