The Viewing and Funeral

Today, I was thinking about the funeral and viewing, and wanted to write a post about them.  It’s something I wrote about, and this post is a combination of my journal entries and my perspective now.

I was concerned about the kids seeing Greg’s body. I wasn’t sure how to prepare them. When my mother-in-law and I dressed Greg, I took some pictures, thinking it might be better for the kids to see the pictures before they saw him in real life. In the end, I didn’t show them the pictures. The pictures made him look….well, dead. He looked better in person, though he didn’t look like himself.

I felt like it was important to let the kids to see Greg, and I never considered not allowing it. In the end, I think that was the right choice for my family, even though the kids would all have nightmares of zombies and of Greg coming back alive for months after the viewing/funeral. It provided some closure, and I think that was good, especially for my younger kids who didn’t understand death as well as the older ones.

When we got to the viewing, Kayla rushed in to see Greg’s body. I told her to slow down. I was concerned she didn’t know what she was walking into. I was also concerned about Mali and her anxiety. I knew this would be hard. It was noticeably hard for all of the kids to see their dad in a casket. It isn’t something a kid should have to experience. They all had different reactions. Kayla was the least standoffish, and she wanted to be close. The boys all stood back some, and some of them were afraid at first. Mali wouldn’t go close to the casket for a couple hours, and my mom had to go back to the house to get her a weighted blanket. She cried and sat in the corner of the room, as far away as she could get. By the end of the viewing, she would get close enough to see, but wouldn’t come clear up to the casket until the funeral the next day.

The viewing lasted from 6-9. I found myself regretting making it three hours. We had a steady flow of people. It was exhausting. I kept comparing it to our wedding reception in my mind, which was a bit torturous. All of the people we loved came to see us, but it was not for a happy reason.

It’s interesting because it felt like I was comforting those who came through. They hadn’t seen the body yet, so they had emotions come up, and they were also feeling for me. I was able to keep my composure the whole time. I have always wondered how people could do that, but now I understand that I had had the chance to see the body and process things more than they had. 

The kids did okay. The ward had put a movie on in the primary room and had snacks. That was nice, and it kept them busy. It was too heavy for them to be in the room with the body. Only Kayla stayed in the line. She stayed for most of the time. Reece came and asked me if he could walk home at one point. I said no, and he grudgingly stayed. I was relieved when it was over, as were all of the kids. 

The funeral was the next day. We woke up early so we could be ready to be at the church for the viewing. This viewing was only an hour long, and the time went by quickly. The kids were more comfortable, and it was nice to have so much family in the room with us. 

Closing the casket is always my least favorite part of any funeral. It feels so final. My mother-in-law said to me, “Get a good look now because you won’t get to later.” I am glad that I was okay with that thought because any pictures we have show the real Greg who was full of life. The body we were seeing wasn’t really Greg. He just didn’t look very good or like himself.

It was heartbreaking to watch my kids. They were noticeably upset, and no child should have to close the casket on their father when they are so young. It was a very emotional time, and it took some time for everyone to say goodbye. Then the funeral director helped me put Greg’s cap on and told me to give him one final kiss. The casket was closed. 

The chapel was packed. They didn’t open the overflow doors because they already had the gym ready for the luncheon. There were so many people there to support us. We really do have so much love and support. 

The funeral was beautiful, and I know Greg would have loved it.  Our friends and family gave some great talks that highlighted the good things about Greg. Greg had written the program for his funeral, and he had asked that his high school friends sing, “I Know That my Redeemer Lives.” It was beautiful and touching to see 11 of his friends get up to sing. It took my breath away to see so many of them. Some men in our ward also sang Be Still My Soul, and it was also beautiful.

August sat on my lap for most of the funeral. He cried loudly through every song. It was heartbreaking, and it made me realize that he comprehended what was happening. When I think back on the funeral now, that is my strongest memory. 

The kids all wrote some memories about their dad, and Kayla and Mali read them. It was touching, and they were very brave. Mali even got up twice because Reece didn’t want to get up.

After the dedication of the grave and the luncheon, we all breathed a sigh of relief. The services were beautiful, and now we could spend some time processing everything that had happened.


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