coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My sister-in-law, Jane

I just got back from a trip to Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan to see family. The reason for the trip was to attend a memorial event for T's sister, Jane. She died over the winter; however, her husband and sons wanted to wait until the warm weather to have a large barbecue/party in her honor. They live on one of the many small fishing lakes in Michigan. It was the perfect setting. The party was like having a wake without bothering with the funeral or any of the tortured nonsense that death culture usually requires. It was the perfect memorial for her, she would have loved it. Her presence was everywhere. It was lovely, as these things so often are.

Jane and T's maternal grandfather was, among other things, a funeral home director. Their house was the funeral home, and they lived on the top floor. There were usually dead bodies on the main floor in one form of death and preparation for burial. Jane and T's mother, BJ grew up like that. Sounds weird, doesn't it?  In fact, BJ had little fear of death. She passed that on to her children. 

Jane had suffered most of her adult life with Scleroderma, "or systemic sclerosis, ... a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases."


However, she died from lung cancer.  She never smoked. Go figure.   





21 comments:

  1. Life is like that, full of ironies. Many hugs to you.

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  2. A college roommate took a teaching job in Iowa, and boarded over a funeral home that also was a crematorium. A child of the family was in her class, and when then had "what my father does for a living day" he stood and told his family story.
    The school board convened an emergency meeting, and voted to discipline her. She refused to repent "allowing" the boy to participate. She was fired. That was 1968.

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    1. The narrow-mindedness of people never ceases to astound me.

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  3. I think we have done our children a disservice by isolating death and dying so much. It is a normal part of life, something which none of us will be able to avoid.

    When I took my oncology course I found out that 20% of patients with lung cancer have never smoked. Shit happens sadly.

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    1. Yeah, it sure does. And I agree with you about isolating death and dying.

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    2. I also disagree with the over-use of the term "passed away". The word "die" is not a bad word and does not need softening.

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  4. I like how the family gathered for your sister-in-law. A celebration of life is the best way to honor the passing of a dearly loved one. I can't imagine growing up in a Funeral Home, but now when I think about it, all home were funeral homes back in the day.

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  5. Bleeding hearts are appropriate. I think the celebration of knowing your sister-in-law was a wonderful idea. Enough time has passed that you could take the time to remember her without the acute pain of losing her. In my family we spent the time after a funeral talking about the person we lost. I believe it is good therapy.

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    1. It is. I am often amazed at how lovely wakes can be.

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  6. I lived in a funeral home for a while. I had to go "downstairs" to do my laundry which was always unnerving. I was only 20 at the time and used to run.
    I wish we would all do memorials like Jane had. Just beautiful.

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    1. I think it would creep me out, too.

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  7. Death is one of the things we'll all have to experience sooner or later, no dodging it, so it makes no sense to "protect" children from it. When I was growing up, long ago in Ireland, funerals were a normal sight. The herse, followed by a long line of cars and as many people on foot, travelled slowly through town making its way from church to cemetary. People would stop as a gesture of respect as it passed, men would lift their hats........I never see that over here! Glad Jane got such a nice send-off. May she rest in peace.

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    1. The community reaction in Ireland sounds so respectful and moving. Thanks for sharing that.

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  8. That was a lovely tribute, celebrating her life and all life in this way.


    One of my daughter's earlier boyfriends is an undertaker, he specialises in all sorts of unusual coffins, wicker, quilts and cardboard, ship's planks, baskets, whatever, and wild forest burial grounds. His business is booming. The last time I met the family, he was investigating how to circumvent German laws for cremation rings, ie ashes into diamonds.

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    1. Yes, he'll never go out of business! I like his creative burial offerings. I think I'd like my ashes to be mixed with dirt and then have T use the mix to plant a tree. In a wild place. Where alligators roam.

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  9. I have noticed a movement away from the somber funeral tradition into more celebrations of life. It would certainly be my choice.

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  10. I think that Culturally I grew up not fearing Death either, which I always see as a Blessing since it is after all something we must all experience. What a great Celebration of Life you had to Honor her Memory! Dawn... The Bohemian

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So, whadayathink?