After the funeral

Confession: The only thing worse than seeing someone for the last time is not seeing someone for the last time.

It wasn’t my grandpa after all. Someone had taken him away and left a wax effigy; not a very good one, though they obviously tried. The cheeks and mouth were all wrong. And the hands were not Grandpa’s. I looked at the figure and felt nothing but disappointment. It wasn’t him after all, and my one chance to see him again and say goodbye was taken away.

But we had to go on and finish what we started, had to eat the scalloped potatoes and talk to the people and shovel the dirt, though in the whole simulation I could not find the two people I came to see: Grandpa and Jesus.

We sang his favorite song at the funeral, though it wasn’t really his favorite song but another by the same name, put in by mistake. We sang the wrong song—all five verses—and we listened to clay tongues share feeble words about Eli’s compassionate spirit glaring forth.

The living are selfish with the dead. I imagine that I have a corner on the grief; that he was at his very core My Grandpa. Over here is a camp who loved him better, and longer. At heart he was Our Dad. Here is a large black-clad body claiming him Our Preacher. And here stands his widow, silent and small. She doesn’t say it, but he was My Husband for twenty-seven years. Beneath every claim lies the unstaked mystery of Eli Mark Yutzy, and no one there knows who he really was.

All I know is that he’s gone.

Has been gone this whole week.

I am happy for those who cried yesterday, who recognized in the coffin the man they loved, who laid him to rest. My time is still coming, and when it does I will have no effigy.


What if you don’t feel the right thing at the right time?

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11 years ago

I have no word to help you with that question. Only wrong effigy memories of my own.

11 years ago

Who gets to define what the right feeling is at the right time? Love you LADY SHARI!

11 years ago

I give up. I can’t compose comments without sarcasm.

I’m so sorry, girl.

11 years ago

This is so well written and I think feelings come at strange times, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. A smell, a certain place, a look on someone’s face…all can trigger an unexpected emotion. You do the best you can and go on. Nobody has the answers about how to deal with things like death – I think we each write our own story there. This makes me sad that you had to go through this but it makes me happy that you had a grandpa that was so wonderful and gave you so many great memories. ♥

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

Would you let me know when ‘the time comes’? No one should be alone then, for any longer than she wants to be. Love you, dear daughter. My grieving will go on for some time, so you won’t be crying by yourself, missing the dear man who loved us all so well.

11 years ago

Having buried far too many people I have loved deeply over the years, starting with my own brother who was my best friend when I was 6, I have come to the point in life where (dare I admit this on the internet?) I basically I know that it’s only the shell, and a poorly done imitation at best. I don’t want to remember them “that way”. So I don’t look. I may PRETEND to look to be polite . . . but I have perfected the art of appearing to see without really seeing. I respect others “need” to look. I don’t need to. If I ever feel the need to look, I will look. Until then, no looking. Having said all that, Shari, grief is like a river. You just go downriver with the flow . . . thankful for the shallows and the slowing when it happens, and hanging on to your “Life Preserver” [God] when it’s hitting the rapids . . . you can travel on this river for years . . . thinking all is calm and well only to hit rapids again. It’s tough. It’s messy. It stinks. But it is what it is, and God is good. And He sends friends to cheer us from the banks and sometimes even gets one in the river with us to help hold us up when the rapids are pulling us down too far . . . but truth is, we have to do it with Him. I care . . . oh so much, and I can pray for you and cheer you from the bank, but as I know you know, God is that Life Preserver, and far more important than any of the rest of us. Hugs.

11 years ago

I’m so sorry too for your family’s loss, Shari. What an….. (icon? seems to much like an object)(I don’t have the words like you writers do…:( ….an influential presence your grandpa was in my spiritual walk, guiding and directing my convictions being formed as a youth. He was also a comfort @ the time of dad’s death, having shared our hearts cry in prayer so many times before. I have shared your frustration of not feeling the right emotions @ the right time. However, I did feel like the service would’ve been what you’re grandpa would’ve liked, it went so well with what he preached to us while He was living the call on His life. Warning the sinner and bragging on the Glories that await us….and Jesus was definitely there, cuz I felt Him. Katya says it well, that grief is like the rapids on a river, sometimes coming in dangerous, unexpected, overwhelming waves when you feel all was just going along fine. Also so much like the tide, never a one-time event but a reoccurring thing that at times is low and the next time a threatening High. May you feel the Lord’s presence close thru your journey of grief and pain. He is always good, never the enemy (even tho it appears as such) and time really does heal. Tho, the saying at the time of raw grief seems very….cliche? I remember feeling like saying, Yeah, right. or “not this time”. Praise God for His awesome care and faithfulness. Focus on the green path of growth, look for His little blessings along the way, however small they seem. Praying for your sister and all the raging depth’s you’re experiencing….

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