Resthaven had several silver trays with home made cookies out, and when I first saw them I thought "who would eat Death Cookies"....and now I knew.
But here's the thing-I never eat in hospitals, and only in nursing homes when it's to share a meal with a loved one, and I've never been in a funeral home before for any length of time. Factor in the dead Christmas trees in all the stores making my sinus go haywire, the dry arctic air and a certain amount of upset over the entire gloomy situation-and I wasn't sure that cookie would go down or stay down.
Then I remembered Oprah's show yesterday with OCD people who had the same kinds of issues, only worse, and how the doctor had encouraged them to eat things and hold it down-so I did the same thing and choked down a Death Cookie-the smallest (about 2 inches across) I could find. The sugar helped and I was able to complete arrangements without puking or otherwise causing a scene by passing out. Thanks O and Dr. Oz!
Ok, other bizarre (to me) things. First, I know my family background is informal and I don't want to offend anyone-these things are personal and private and handled for each family differently. That said, I found the "Funeral and Thank You Note Organizer" just a bit weird.
It is a little notebook and inside the notebook are pages to track who came to the service, who brought food and NUMBERED STICKIES to place on the food so you could cross reference it to the listing page later and thank Auntie Em for the Green Bean Casserole. I solemnly listened to my instructions and thanked the director, but I know the look on my face said "this is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of", and I wonder if it isn't some sort of southern US thing. We probably keep the Thank You Notes afloat-eventually we'll be sending Thank You for Thank You notes to people.
Now, the Food Thing in general is, well, odd. Casseroles are the typical southern funeral food. And for a big family, especially one that has just lost the main cook, it might be a thoughtful and good idea. But, personally, if I am too distraught to cook, I just roll on down to Taco Bell. And while all the socializing, keeping busy, etc. is said to be healing, wolfing down huge amounts of fat and sugar isn't going to be good for the living.
Picking out the coffin required some time. On one hand, I knew Uncle John was beyond caring and that all the pressure was in my mind, but on the other hand, I very much wanted to get it right-so that I could report on it to the rest of family and they would draw some peace from knowing he was eternally housed in the correct box. I prefer wood, but instantly I knew when I saw it, he would want Carbon Steel if he could choose, and I was able to find a Military designed, Carbon Steel, blue, with blue interior. Blue was his favorite color, and even though there will be no pictures or any evidence of it, I will know he was laid out in suitable Military fashion and according to his design sensibilities (not mine). And yes, that gave me some comfort. Better still, it was in his preferred price range, not bottom of the line, not top, firmly in the middle so I don't have to worry about him fuming about it in the afterlife.
Because he is getting a Military Funeral in a National Cemetery, many of the other details are pre-ordained, and that, combined with Oklahoma Laws, are a bit odd. For instance, embalming is not required, and I am pleased, because I really don't want to pollute the earth with my Uncle John's remains full of formaldehyde. BUT, the Military provides and insists upon a Vault, as do most other townships and there is no way around it but to go find private land, get permits and yadda yadda. So, the best we can do is just not do any great damage to the water table. I finally defaulted to his only instructions "the Military will handle it" and so they will.
It is possible to get memorial jewelry to hold cremains. Ok, I can almost cope with that. The "Thumbies" absolutely creeped me out beyond belief. A gold, silver or white gold replica of the deceased actual thumbprint. I stared at them, went back, stared again, and came up with the same conclusion-creep city. Thinking about it now-still creeping me out......ewwwwww.
I will share some information that may or may not help someone. I asked the funeral director about protocol-when they are preparing and cleaning the remains, does someone look for signs of abuse, etc.? I told him I was unclear about what to do at the time he died-he was under a blanket, and I held his arm, but I really really did not want to do an inspection, and I didn't know if I was supposed to. Turns out, that's the job of the medical and funeral attendants so there is no peeking required. I'm glad I asked, and it was troubling me so now I can report to the family that it has all be handled properly. (In no way did I suspect abuse, but without a visual verification who would know?) This paragraph clearly belongs under the heading weird items, but there you have it.