TW: Grief, Graphic Descriptions of Planning a Funeral, mentions of Depression and Suicide
Since so many of you kindly responded to my initial post yesterday, I just wanted to take a few moments to let you know about how things are going.
Today my sister and I drove down to Jersey to the funeral home while The Nerdy Mr stayed home and watched the Cheddar dog.
I think he's a much happier little man for it.
I talked to my brother's girlfriend on the way to the funeral home. I'm glad I did because the poor girl blames herself. I told her it wasn't her fault, because it isn't. She told me that it was because she broke up with him that night. I told her that that was ridiculous, because she has a right to do what she needs to do for her life. We all choose our own reactions in life, my brother chose badly in the wee hours between Tuesday and Wednesday. It is not her fault. I told her that it was important to both my sister and I that she know that we don't have any anger or resentment toward her for what happened, and that we are deeply, deeply sorry that he put her in this position. We're going to probably go eat and talk somewhere.
Actually, after a 25 minute conversation with my sister on the subject, both of us are frankly pissed at him for it. We've both had experiences with exes where we feared we'd end up in that exact situation. We both talked to him extensively about it at the time, because it was fucking awful. As so often in life, I am angry with my brother for not thinking about the consequences of his actions. I know this will fade into empathy in time, but for now, it's part of the process.
The funeral home was okay. . . or as okay as these things can be. We made so, so, so many decisions today. I always thought I was bad at doing this, but maybe not.
The prayer cards were the worst. There was one, I should have taken a picture of it to share it with you guys, but it was so apt for how my sister and I felt that we lost it, bawled like crazy, and agreed emphatically that we couldn't use that one. The first card we picked could not be done without the other 8 in the series (which did not have scriptural quotes we find comforting)— I get that. They do the printing on site, I bet, and half the cards are printed already. They kept offering to do one with a photo (Though I'm quite sure this was included, it was the only moment that felt like an up-sell the entire time. I think he couldn't have known that I do enough design to not care for the layout of most of the cards.).
Choosing where to bury my brother produced what was possibly the most humorous moment of the day. My estranged uncle holds the deeds to the plots, and he'd originally wanted to put my brother literally on top of my mother. The idea of the two of them basically sharing a grave freaked my sister and I out. When asked for a reason, all I could come up with was, "We're just not that European."
When we went up to the casket showroom, I did my damndest to pretend I was car shopping. This was easier than I thought it would be, considering that most of them cost what a decent used car costs, and a few cost what a cheap new car costs. This was the most unhelpful my estranged uncle was all day. There was a casket design with the same name as my brother (it's one of the big biblical names, so that's not surprising). For him, that made it automatically the one. For my sister and I, that made us reluctant. And she and I had already just about settled on one by that time. Just like car shopping, it all came down to the interior. The name sharing casket had these wide panels, and just no. The one we'd settled on had a lovely starburst kind of crinkle thing that we really liked. The director of the funeral home offered to swap it out for us, but we decided that this was far too much effort for something few would notice and no one would remember. And besides, we really did want an excuse to not have my brother share his name with the design of his casket. That would have bothered us for a while.
I'm still a little sticker shocked over the cost of the funeral. I have screenplays I could produce for less. They worked with us a lot though, and were good about cutting out the limo when we decided we wouldn't want it. It's not that it's that much for the limo, it's that we find our own car comforting.
We went to the florist's next. We lingered outside for a bit to discuss what we thought the ribbon should say on the casket spray. We went through endless permutations of two-word epithets for him. To blow off some steam I warned them I was about to say something I didn't mean, that it should read: "stupid idiot." My sister said, "No wait— Nephew. Brother. Asshole." We laughed and it was the first moment we felt better all day. We'd agreed that we were all feeling these things, but we weren't going to say them like that. Because we all knew we loved him and didn't mean it like that.
The guy at the florist's was very sweet. We looked through the catalog and hated everything again. So much color. Just too much color. The first one I liked, turned out to be an arrangement meant to go on the corner of a table. When we finally settled on a spray, it was meant for an infant or toddler casket— but aside from being too small, it was perfect— white with touches of blue and purple— he really loved purple when we were kids. The ribbon will say, "Beloved Brother."
It helped having my sister there, and surprisingly, my estranged uncle too. Very little hindrance on that front. Quite a bit of help. Maybe he's had a chance to mellow out and experience some emotional growth in the several years since we've last spoken. We had lunch. It was okay. I ate beancakes which made me smile. I haven't eaten one that wasn't steamed since college.
After lunch, we went home to hug the dog— and completely forgot to visit my grandmother's sister who lives in town. I think we'll get to that tomorrow, along with visiting my estranged uncle's storage unit for photos and home movies, buying him the last suit I'll ever get to see him in (though, we decided that like his father who wore sweatpants and slippers and had a beer between his knees, that he too deserves to be comfortable from the waist down.), and probably a bunch of micro decisions that I'm totally unprepared for— like planning my little brother's funeral. I cannot believe my sister and I are planning my little brother's funeral.
I have to write something to speak. I'm musing on something that riffs on, "Depression lies. Depression cheats. Depression steals." But, I'll probably post some notes on that tomorrow or Saturday.
Funeral arrangement details are available on Facebook. The Market Street Mission has kindly arranged to provide transportation from that area to the funeral for his friends without it. Baskets and flowers may be sent directly to the funeral home.
For (possibly overly) kindly GTers, my page is public and may be found at Slash [the name under which my fiance and I do video production without capitalization or punctuation].
For anyone who wishes to speak to me privately and directly, be you from GT or a friend of my brothers who's found their (welcome) way to my grief blogging, I may be contacted at The Nerdy Mrs at gmail.
I'm going to take a hot bath and get me some sleep. Thanks for listening and for all of your incredibly kind comments yesterday. I am sorry I wasn't able to respond to you all.
ETA: For those of you who volunteered (and did) take the troll patrol to the news sites, there was not one nasty comment when I looked today. There was one comment seriously discussing depression. And another, that reminded me of something my brother would have said: "What kind of body?" "SOMEbody." I cannot fucking thank you guys enough. The local PD has been amazing at keeping the details under wraps and I think this will pass out of the news cycle quickly enough.