Not Wanted Here

I haven’t updated this blog in a while. Maybe it’s because people were actually checking it regularly and I wanted to throw them off. I think they’re gone and I can resume being honest.

Volunteering at a funeral this morning. I’m part of the “Powerpoint” team in my church, which handles the computer displays in the sanctuary and elsewhere. I’ve been volunteering in this capacity for more than ten years, and for the last few years I’ve ascended to a kind of coordinator, just by virtue of being there the longest. I do a lot of the funerals because they’re often held during the day and my work is very flexible about my coming and going; so it tends to work best for me. My experience at the computer also means I’m not as rattled by people showing up with a variety of formats and requests at the last minute.

The first funerals I volunteered at felt very strange. I rarely know the deceased, or even many of the attendees, so I felt like a stranger intruding on a family’s private grief. I don’t know if it’s different for the other volunteers at first, but I suspect it’s not. Many of these events, especially in the wake of my mom’s passing in 2017, sort of “colour” the rest of my day and leave me feeling drained. Sometimes I try not to be ‘present’ and remain disengaged from the event as much as possible, doing puzzles on my phone or literally stepping out of the booth when I know there’s a lot of time before I’m needed next.

I don’t think that’s entirely healthy, so lately I’ve been trying to remain engaged, to make sure that I notice and be present for feelings that the event brings up, and remind myself that it is really okay and understandable to be sad (and even to take some of that sadness with me throughout the day). But also, I try to do something ‘nice’ for myself when I have a chance; often it’s going out of my way to stop at Whitecap for an Americano, my favourite coffee to buy in the city.

As to the “stranger” piece I mentioned earlier — I’ve come to realize that although I don’t know the people involved, my purpose is to make the day a little easier for those going through this loss. I also know, having been on the ‘other side’ of things recently, that probably nobody is thinking of us volunteers as “intruders” and if anything they are grateful for having people around to take care of the myriad little things involved in hosting a funeral (and often reception).

Let me tell you, there are way more questions and logistical things involved in a funeral than you might expect. Especially when the deceased left virtually no instructions, as was my mother’s case. She simply refused to talk about any of it. You might sit down to have a piece of cheese and a bun after the funeral, and they seem like the same piece of cheese and bun at every event, but somebody had to decide on that piece of cheese and that bun and then source and deliver everything.

Anyway. It’ll be okay. I won’t say “good”, but okay.

Thing I Saw: Some small trees blooming beautifully along my running route this morning, and the smell was lovely as well. But I don’t have a “thing I smelled” note.

Thing I Learned: Well, before setting out to write this I was just starting to learn about American campaign security, for some reason. I haven’t finished reading the article but the breezy and informal tone made it interesting and I want to get back to it later.

I’m Grateful For: Waking up this morning. Not that this was in a specific danger of not happening, but you never know.