Monday, November 12, 2018

My Mom's Funeral...A Mentoring Moment

It’s a cheerful title to start a blog with isn’t it? I will be honest that I am writing this blog as a person that loves God, has a strong faith yet feels like a part of my soul is missing with the passing of my mom only three weeks ago. My faith is a non-negotiable and I am not mad at God. The day Tracy and I got married, we used it as a mentoring moment for the teenagers that called me youth pastor. Today, I am writing this blog as a mentoring moment regarding what it is like to walk through such a dark time. I have decided to list 10 things I have learned through the process of losing a loved one.

If you have never lost a parent, a few items on this list could come across the wrong way. Perhaps you have lost a parent…I would expect you to know exactly what I am talking about. Perhaps you could even add a few comments. In my case my mom was my best friend next to my own wife. We talked over the phone multiple times per week and so we had a very tight bond. I am writing this blog from the perspective that I love my parents very much. If you have a fractured relationship with your parents, I would urge you to get it right. On that note….let us begin. 

1. Expect it to be tough. Nothing prepares you for the loss of family member. I was in ballroom dancing lessons with Tracy that Monday night. Earlier that day I called my mom and she did not sound like herself. When Tracy got home that night I told her that my mom was not doing well. During dance class I got the phone call that my mom had passed. Within in a half hour I was on the road to Milwaukee. I picked up my dad and walked him up to the room at the rehab/nursing. It was the room where my mom was now laying dead on her bed. The room was cold because they turned on the AC full tilt (this is protocol until the person is picked up). It was also a bit dark but as my dad looked at his wife, I put my around him and laid my head on his shoulder. He had a good cry and so did I after putting my hand on her and saying a few words. We left together completely broken but with the hope that she was in heaven with her parents, siblings and others.

2. The day after someone’s passing is tough. The day after a loved one passes you are thrusted into dealing with the funeral home. I have been with many families during a part of this process but now I got to see the entire ordeal. When we left my mom that night we had to provide the name of a funeral home. This would be the same if a loved one passes away at home. Due to my mom’s age and health it was suggested there was no need for an autopsy. This is a question you are asked right away. While on the phone with the funeral home the next morning to setup an appointment I was asked “should we go ahead and start embalming her?”. I was taken back as it seemed cold to ask such a question. You will receive many of what seem to be cold condolences but please understand that they are simply wanting to help and do their job. Your loved one's funeral is not the first one they have done and like any other business, they have done this many times. There is a business side to this all and they were just doing their part. I stayed calm. That morning we met with the funeral director. He was as a very nice man. He spoke to my brother, his wife, my dad and I about the process. Expect this all to be pricey less you do cremation or the loved one had insurance, etc. Even then it will not be as inexpensive as you think. Things that go into the price of funeral home costs are casket, vault, spray of flowers for on top of the casket, cemetery plot (my parents purchased their plots years ago), opening of the plot (not included in the plot purchase), pastor’s honorarium, meal afterward, head stone, etc.

3. In lieu of flowers. If things are tight regarding funeral costs or if they are not and you would like funds to go towards a memorial, you can still expect flowers. I will be honest…the money that came in to help my dad was very much appreciated. The flowers that arrived despite the memorial fund were very much appreciated as well. If you say “In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been setup for…..” You can still expect to receive many flowers. Again, this is not a bad thing. It was very much welcome. I can say for me it was nice to bring a couple home for my house and church. People share sympathies and grief in different ways and flowers are one of them.

4. Expect wrong comments. The fact is that during a time of crisis or grief people are going to say the wrong thing. They don’t mean it and actually mean well. There is no reason to get upset or let it ruin your day. People knew how much my mom meant to my brother, dad and I yet we heard all kinds of comments. Again, they mean well but sometimes it just comes out wrong. I myself have done this before. It’s going to happen…get ready.

5. Expect ignorant comments. I can deal with wrong comments that were meant to be good. It took everything in me to hold back when ignorant remarks were made. While standing by my mom’s casket I had people ask me “so what really did her in?”. Another one asked of me was “which pill did she take that put her over the edge?”. There was one lady that has known me since elementary school days that showed up. She was with a caretaker and told me about how to cast out demons and the fact that we could have a curse upon our family and these are the steps to cast that away. Bottom line…expect ignorant comments and don’t fire back. This is not the place for it. Simply let them share their thought and move on. 

6. Enjoy the company at the funeral because the days to follow will be tough. You will have times of laughing and times of crying. People do not expect a whole lot out of the family that day. It was comforting to see all of the people that showed up for my mom’s funeral. From people I knew when I was a kid to first time introductions of my mom’s social circle. It can feel like a long time standing by the casket greeting everyone and getting hugs, etc. Embrace this time and enjoy the conversation and memories. 

7. If you have held it together through the service, expect to be broken at the graveside service. I had a difficult time getting through the eulogy I prepared but nothing prepared me for the graveside service. When that was all done I just stood by my mom’s casket with my hand on it. I fell apart because it was all so final. In one aspect you have family, friends, etc. standing their to support you. In another aspect you have the gravediggers there ready to lower your loved one down so they can close the vault, put the dirt back in and move on. Yes I know (was reminded many times) where she is now but in the physical I knew a piece of my heart and soul were now gone…and it hurt…still hurts. I hugged my wife and fell apart. After I pulled myself together somewhat, my pastor from my early years gave me a hug and I lost it once again. 

8. When the funeral is over and life continues on the next day, expect moments of emotions that are all over the place. I filled my life with busyness yet even three weeks into life after the funeral I long for a day where I can just be by myself. Where I can visit my moms grave, retrace old steps and mourn in that way. I have not been able to do that yet. Be ready to help as well. For me I told my dad that I would take care of all the thank you cards and other odds and ends. 

9. Follow up with your other parent. If you are blessed to have your other parent; be sure to follow up regularly. It has now become my M.O. to call my dad every other day. Chances are they are by themself now. I know my mom was quite the talker. If she was not talking with my dad, she was on the phone talking with someone else. Now my dad is faced with a lot of quiet time. A phone call from his kid or relative are no doubt always welcomed. 

10. Don’t force conversation. When a person has lost their spouse or a child has lost their parent…talk about it when they are ready. This past weekend I had my dad up for a visit. We didn’t talk about mom’s passing unless he brought it up. I feel that if you pressure a person into making decisions, etc. after a loved ones passing they will feel like you are pushing them into a corner. Death is a big deal and it will be dealt with in days, weeks and months to come. Two days after the funeral I took a van full of hurricane supplies down to Florida with my family and a couple from the church. I was so appreciative that we did not make my mom's funeral the point of conversation other than when I brought it up just to vent a bit. 

Here I am three weeks out from my mom’s passing and there is still not an hour or two that go by without me thinking about her. This weekend I was at Fleet Farm and heard Christmas music. I fell apart in the store. I still hurt and will probably be a mess through the holidays. Her birthday would have been on December 10th as well. I hope to find healing through prayer, reading, remembering and finding some me time. I am so thankful for my church, supportive family, friends and in-laws that have encouraged me.

Feel free to comment on this blog as you see fit. I would be happy to answer any questions anyone has. If it is more personal you can email me


  1. :....( Expressed so well and I completely get it. A huge cyber hug and many prayers for your comfort in the coming difficult weeks. I lost two who were like your Mom is to you this same time of year.

  2. You are so right. I was by my mom's side when she went to see Jesus. That was a blessing. She fought ovarian cancer for 3years. It was a hard fight. She was tired. The funeral director met us at the house. He accidentally took my glasses instead of mom's. We switched them the next day. The day of her funeral was cold and rainy. Her headstone is behind ours and I had to remind my kids that they might see it. The next couple of weeks are a blur. My father was still alive and in frail health. I will always miss my mom and dad. Mom has been gone since 2001and dad died in 2004. He died after I passed my state boards. That hit me hard because I felt like an orphan. I was in charge of the house. Lots to do and bills to pay. I learned a lot. At the same time I was starting a new job as a RN. Over the years it gets a little easier but I am still jealous of people who have their parents still with them. Lean on your friends and family and cherish your memories.
    Deb Jones