As of April 3rd, life without parole (plus 6 years) is my brother-in-law’s final sentence. It is good to finally have some closure. There was no funeral, no memorial service, no family gathering for the burial of their ashes…no closure. I blogged, and I did some other things that I thought might help, and they did, but nothing really brought the closure I craved.
This is where I remind you that a funeral is not about one person who died, or one survivor. Memorial services, funerals and celebrations of life are designed to help people absorb the reality and finality of death. Sure, they are full of emotion...tears, and sometimes laughter, as friends and family gather to remember the good times and comfort one another...and the emotion can be overwhelming. But please don’t tell your family that you don’t want a funeral, either for yourself or for a loved one. Skipping the service can deprive loved ones of much needed closure.
Sweetie and I tried to find some closure as we sat vigil with his mom and dad, and the whole family, when it first happened, last February. We did not talk about them much, and we did not talk about him much…but we did grieve together in those first days and weeks. It helped, but it is difficult to find closure without words.
I knit covers for the containers of ashes, at my mother-in-law’s request, and had planned to see them again before they were buried. I still have some silk flowers and ribbons that were supposed to adorn them whenever we finally gathered to say our final good-bye to Randy and Cindy. While that gathering never materialized, although the unadorned ashes were buried, it helped me to knit the covers in remembrance of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
I made ornaments from bottle caps and photos to hang from rear-view mirrors, and I gave them to family and friends. Every time I get in my car, I see their faces and remember that they are forever gone, and far too soon. The teardrop crystal on each one sends sunlight dancing through the car while their memories are free to dance in our minds.
I prayed, and I cried. I cried out to God because it was such a cruel fate that it did not seem real. How could this be real? Some of my prayers and tears were silent, and some were definitely not. I cried out to the Lord to show me why, but he did not. Perhaps there is some good to come from this. I cannot know…I can only guess, and I have tried, but I will likely never know for sure. Still, it helps to talk it through and try to figure out what comes next.
What comes next for my brother-in-law is a life behind bars. He decided that killing his sister and brother was the answer to his “lifelong of headache” and heartache, and those two shots have cost him dearly. Life for those left behind is also forever changed, and we have spent the last thirteen months wondering what comes next for us and for him. On April 3, 2017 his sentence was handed down by the judge, and I finally felt some closure. I left the courtroom with Sweetie, with her sons and husband, with assorted family and friends, and I felt a huge sigh of relief. We embraced, but did not cry or celebrate. Still, in the judge’s words, there was closure. We know what comes next, and justice has been served.
What comes next for Pretty? More knitting, more praying and probably more crying. Grief is a funny thing, yet it is not funny at all. Memories make me laugh, and make me cry. Remembering what happened makes me angry and confused. Grief is, at times, all consuming. At other times it seems that I have come through to the other side, usually just before a memory hits, and then the process starts anew. There is no time limit on grief. This grief will always be a part of me, of us, of everyone left behind. We will make new memories, and we will find joy where we can, but the grief is now a part of who we are.
If you have lost a loved one, please allow yourself to feel the grief, and give yourself time to find out what comes next. If you are not sure about what comes next for YOU when you leave this world, shoot me an email. I'd love to talk to you about an eternity in heaven!