Long after the funeral ends...

A year ago today I got my six year old son and four year old daughter ready for the day. I took out their clothes just like every other day. But the day was unlike every other day. A year ago today I got in my car and drove to church just like I had done every Wednesday and Sunday for a number of years. But it wasn't Wednesday. And it wasn't Sunday. And I wasn't driving to a regular church service. I was driving to my husband's funeral. He wasn't 80. He hadn't lived a long life. I wouldn't have 50 years of memories to share about him from the pulpit. He was 31.
When the funeral ends, life goes on for most people who attended it. And it should.
But for those most intimately connected to the deceased, life doesn't go on. Life stops. Life changes. Life hurts in a way that is indescribable.  After the funeral ends when everyone is gone and when the numbness starts to wear off that is when the pain stings. That is when the reality sets in.
And day 30 may even hurt more than day 1. The tears that fall on day 50 may last longer than the tears that fell on day 2. The pain may sting more on day 75 than it did on day 3. Because long after the funeral ends, when life has gone on for most people (as it should), life has forever changed for those so intimately connected to the deceased.

For seven and a half years I spoke to my husband multiple times throughout the day. His face was the first one I saw in the morning and his voice was the last one I heard when I went to sleep at night. Every single dream, plan and desire I had for my life involved him. And then he died. And the funeral ended. But the grief had just started.
I no longer saw his face every morning unless I was looking at pictures. I no longer heard his voice anymore unless I was watching a video. I was now expected to plan for a future that didn't involve him. I was now expected to dream but he was no longer in it. I was expected to move on and move forward but the very person I thought I would grow old with was no longer alive.
After the funeral ends, especially if you are a young widow you eventually will have to go back to work. If you have children, like I do, you'll have to carry on with your daily routines. Your day will be consumed with busyness and the affairs of the world, because life doesn't stop when someone dies. But the pain and the hole in the heart honestly gets bigger before it ever gets smaller. The dark clouds that rolled in the day your loved one dies get larger long before they get smaller. The gut-wrenching tears get louder as each day passes long before they grow quieter. The waves of grief roll in constantly and pound relentlessly. Long after the funeral ends the intensity of the pain remains.
After the funeral ends reality sets in. The absence of the loved one grows louder every day. The dinner table is missing a plate. The laundry pile is missing a person's set of clothes. The pantry is void of the food only they enjoyed eating. The phone doesn't ring with them calling on the other end. And their side of the bed remains empty.
It isn't just birthday's that bring up memories. It isn't just holiday's that cause pain. It is the random Monday where you wake up, look over and remember they aren't there. It is in the dead of the night when they appear in your dream and you have to remind yourself that they are no longer living. It is 5:00 every evening when they don't walk through the front door. It is on your way to church when you're driving and they should be. It hurts in the grocery store when you walk down an aisle, pass a product and remember how you used to make them a certain meal. It is when a show comes on television and you want to look over at the couch to laugh with them but they aren't there. It is when their name is no longer the first one that appears in your text messages because it has been months since you've received a text from them. Long after the funeral ends the pain continues.

After the funeral ends and life goes on for most people (as it should) the tears remain even in the littlest. To hear a five year old girl sob uncontrollably because she misses her dad is heartbreaking. To walk into her bedroom and see her clutching a picture of her father with red stained eyes and tears that should only come out of adults is gut-wrenching. Long after the funeral ends the littlest are hurting. They hurt at bedtime when their dad isn't there to tell them stories, sing songs with them and pray before bed. They hurt in the morning when he isn't there to eat cereal with them and watch cartoons with them. They hurt during the day when he isn't there to play with them. And they will hurt long after the funeral ends. They will hurt when he isn't there to wipe their eyes after someone is mean to them. They will hurt when he isn't there to hear about their first crush. They will hurt when he isn't there to teach them how to drive. They will hurt when he isn't there to see them graduate from high school and start college. They will hurt when he isn't there to meet the person they will eventually marry. They will hurt when he isn't there at their wedding and isn't there to see hold their children. Long after the funeral ends, they will hurt.


Long after the funeral ends, God remains constant. He sees every tear that falls in the dead of the night. He sees the pain on day 50 just as much as He saw the pain on day 1. He remains close to the brokenhearted months after the funeral ends. And though it is almost impossible at times to see the light at the end of the tunnel, eventually the light is seen. Eventually the smiles return. Eventually the hole gets smaller. Eventually the waves of grief don't hit as hard. Long after the funeral ends eventually it gets easier. Long after the funeral ends the pain doesn't sting as much. Long after the funeral ends it becomes possible to dream again, possible to hope again, possible to plan again. Long after the funeral ends the smiles begin to return.



Long after the funeral ends.