Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This is a well-meant post about mourning, and what happened to me in the days surrounding Jay's funeral. It's been several years since my grandmother died, and I've since forgotten what to expect in the aftermath... In short, I've been a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. What follows is a detailed explanation of what happened and how I felt about it. It's not meant to offend, but it has severely changed my perspective on how to (and how maybe not to) offer condolences to the grieving.

When calling a few people to tell them the news, I got a lot of offers for help, a lot of advice I wasn't in the mood to hear, and a lot of well-wishing. I appreciated all of it because I knew the hearts of those I was speaking to. First, I'll tell you the craziest thing:

I don't know what came over me, but I went to work on Monday... I thought maybe keeping busy would be a good thing. I was wrong. I wasn't ready... Especially for this: my receptionist came into my office and asked if I'd report any possible communications from the grave: lights blinking at home, any power failures, or extra televsion static, whatever. "I have to know. Look for them!" she requested. (She follows the teachings of a popular psychic)

I just said "Ok."

One phone call caught me completely off guard (and forgive me, Reason 756 for telling this story - just know that I love you and will keep your identity a secret). We'd been discussing the details of Jason's death for quite a few minutes when he asked, "How's his kid doing?" Um What? Kids? What kids? Jason was 5. It turns out, my dear friend '756 thought someone else had died... It took me a minute to regroup and say, "No, Jason... my nephew..." I felt horrible to have unwittingly been a part of that misunderstanding...

Next came the question of "Is there anything I can do?" Honestly - there wasn't - and isn't much... but I felt bad that I couldn't give people anything helpful to do. After a bit, I finally thought of something. I asked them to pray that my ridiculous brother-in-law (who'd spent much of the last several years in a very demented drunken stupor) wouldn't create a scene at the services. Thankfully, my r-b-i-l had recently been in the hospital. He dried out, was sober (and on the right kinds of meds), and during the funeral, behaved with the most clarity I've seen from him in a long time. It is my personal belief that the doctors knocked some sense into him regarding his addictions - and the prayers kept him from relapsing. (Until you've watched this kind of thing take place, it's hard to understand the miracle we're talking about here...)

I also found myself in the odd position of comforting friends who called and sobbing, said, "I just heard! I'm so sorry...." I'm not sure what that's all about, but that's what happened.

Then the sympathy cards rolled in. Don't take this the wrong way. I really appreciate those who sent them, but I will admit, I barely glazed over what they wrote - and didn't bother reading the Hallmark sentiments... I promise, I will. I'm just not ready right now.

The thing I really appreciate about cards, however, is that they eliminate my need to accept condolences in person. This, in turn, eliminates the possibility that I will turn into a blithering mourner in public. It's just that I don't want to break down in front just anyone. I'm a private kind of break-down girl...

In fact, on Monday, when I should have been home... my boss came into my office with a rather intense "I'm so sorry" look on her face. In self-defense, I held up my hands and said, "Don't get nutty and don't touch me!" Of course, then I broke down and sobbed. I motioned for her to shut the door... When I got a hold of myself, I asked to be excused from the Monday staff meeting... I then quickly wrote an e-mail to my co-workers that I need a little space... Of course, one by one, they all came in to hug me... I hate telling people "Don't touch me," but it's by far better than letting them watch me break down. "It's not pretty," I explained over and over and over.

What followed was a long list of phone calls - letting me know either that they were coming to the funeral or not coming, where they could send donations (Incidentally, Vent Camp, Where Jason enjoyed two summer weeks of fun with other kids on ventilators), and again, if there is anything they can do.

I am frustrated to say there isn't anything that can be done. I don't need much (but I let Reason 756 bring me cake - because I like his company, and it was a really great cake...).

It's just an overwhelming, surreal series of events... I will leave you with a story that I haven't yet told my receptionist, and probably won't.

Recently, my sister, Jill, hung a birdfeeder outside Jason's bedroom window. Jason loved watching the birds - and was learning to identify the Chickadees, the Junkos, and the Jays. Sometime in the past couple of days, she mentioned that Jason, despite the cold weather, often made Jill open the window "because he wanted the birds to come into his room and see him."

In the hours following his funeral service, my other sister, Gwen, went home. Her heat was on the blink, and her place was as hot as blazes. She opened a window. A bird flew in the house. I couldn't tell you the last time I've seen a bird at night.

This morning, as I left my house, a chickadee sat on the fence just outside my front door.

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  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger sass said…

    very honest. very bold. it's not often you come across such gumption. impressive.

    on another note: report those bird incidents to your receptionist!

  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger Kell said…

    Incident reported - she's delirious and telling me its a sign that he's okay. Just FYI

  • At 6:33 AM, Blogger Trixie said…

    My friend also had the same bird event but it was a cardinal. Odd. Something to consider I guess!

    My question is "How would some extra sugary goodness made with love from my Mother-in-Law's country kitchen make you feel?"

    It has to be better than cake! Is certainly from a funny and erstwhile friend...AND has the remarkable advantage of being something you can take in to work and pass around without having done any of the actual baking yourself.

    Think carefully about your answer.

    And you know that I just crazy about wanting to send you virtual hugs (ick), tell you that I "wish there was something I could do" and blathering on with meaningless sentiment. You know I am.

  • At 5:48 AM, Blogger Kell said…

    I know how everyone is... And that's just the thing. I love you all for your support - And I would never fault anyone for doing this stuff - nor would I not send a card... What it boils down to is this: I can do the mourning thing with my friends - as long as it's one on one.

    Take Sunday at church for example. I tried to sneak in the back way, but two friends were at the top of the back stairs... hugs. Then I sat near the door on the other side of the sanctuary. More people wanting to tell me things. About at person/hug number five, I just felt miserable and sad and it was like he died all over again...

    Now. If I'd seen these people one one one, it'd have been fine - We could talk, I could tell my funny Jason stories, and all would be well... In fact, I love telling happy Jay stories... Just not to five people in a row.

    I know I sound horrendous - and like an ingrate. I swear, I'm not. I'm just overwhelmed.


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