Thursday, 14 May 2009

The open casket

Below is a letter from my friend. It had me in tears. These poor kids,
losing their mum at such a young age. I am not too sure about them
seeing their
dead mum in an open casket though, what do you think?


Hi Jen,

We buried Betty yesterday and it was a sad day, but yet thanks to Tom it also
was a celebration of life. How can you not cry and laugh when you see the

innocence of a very rambunctious little boy who embodied the joie-de-vivre of
his mother who he won't really remember, and who was loving the attention!

David is going to have his hands full with him as was shown as Tom stood
behind him at the reception after the service trying to pull down his pants,
with a grin of total mischievious 5-yr old boyishness!

Poor Alice, she was a little more overwhelmed by it all - sort of understanding
but not really. She was concerned about her mother being left in the cemetary
all by herself. I was talking to David last night about it, and told him what my
mother told me when I was little and my grandmother died - that it was only the
outer shell that was put in the ground, that she was in Heaven with God and with
loved ones. Hopefully he can help Alice understand that her mother will always
be in her heart, and not in a hole in the ground.

Funeral customs I know are different around the world - and even here with
different cultural/religious groups. We have "visitation" or a "wake" usually
the day (or in some cases for 2 days) before the service at a "funeral home".
There is always a controversy about open casket or closed... I prefer the closed
with a nice photo of the deceased.

Betty's was open and David had the kids in to see her which some thought was
gruesome. Actually, I think it gave them a better sense of the closure - the reality.
It was a decision only a parent could make, knowing his children.

I think it was better that they were not hidden away from it all - and their
curiosity was very natural. It was heart-breaking hearing about Tom wanting to
get in the casket with her - I think it had as much to do with a little boy wanting
to climb into a box! And then that Alice touched her hands and was sad that
Mummy's hands were so cold.

One happy thing that did come out of this situation was that another one of our
cousins who has been estranged from her father came out from western Canada for
the funeral and built a bridge with her father. She hadn't seen him in 10
years, and it was good to see. Not that they are going to be best friends, but
she can go home knowing that she took the high road and made the effort. If her
father dies before she sees him again, she has that peace of mind.

I've never been more proud of her - so glad that she did it and it was a better
reunion than I had expected. Neither of them are Christians but there's been a
lot of prayers that there would be reconciliation between father and daughter.

Much get going to work... but thought I'd tell you about yesterday, in part.
Hugs and good wishes your way,