Life After Loss – Is Closure Possible?

Is Closure Possible?

Is Closure Necessary?

When you’re charged with carrying out someone’s wishes, sometimes you need to throw tradition out the window.
My last DIY for my mom was to throw a Pepper Party and lay her to rest in a way contrary to tradition. (See links to this series below if you’re a newbie here – it would probably be a good idea to start from the very beginning, it’s a very nice place to start…)
My mom had always told me that when it was her time to go, to…

dig a hole out back and bury her in a pine box.

It was the family joke.
I found a way, or rather, my son found a way to do just that. But you’ll have to read all the way to the end to find out how.

Here is what we did and will do:

December 25: We had Christmas as usual in our home with Jillian and Taylor (DD and SIL) just two days after my mom’s passing and talked all day about mom and how we missed having her there and the funny things she said and did last Christmas. We loved giving her gifts because she ooo’d and aww’d over them like we had given her the best gift in the world. Then we went over to my daughter’s house and spent a little time there with the grandkiddos.
December 30: In liew of a funeral (I detest funerals!), we had a Pepper Party at our house. All our friends in the area were invited to our home for an open house to celebrate my mom. It was held in the evening from 4:00-8:00 and we had it catered with food trays from Walmart and a barbeque and chicken meal from Dickeys. We had a slide show of moments with Mom and had a ring binder of mom’s pictures and momentos for everyone to look through. We invited everyone to see mom’s apartment.
December 31: We had a family get together for those in the area and after a meal together we went downstairs to my mom’s apartment and read through some of the family history she had stored in her room. We learned things about her and my dad we never knew, found pictures of my grandparents, letters, discharge papers from my mom’s dad’s military service, and even read love letters from my dad to my mom. We laughed, we cried and we remembered.

It is a sweet memory.

January 2: We had family Christmas where my kids exchanged gifts and gave us our group gift. We had another meal together and watched the grandkids open their gifts. It was such a fun evening, accented by two more of my kids being there.

It was so close to Christmas.

Many have said that they were sorry that Mom passed away December 23, so close to Christmas. But I say, NO! God’s timing was a blessing! I was surrounded by my family and friends celebrating both Christmas and mom for nearly two weeks. My DD from Indiana left January 5th. Many of us had lots of opportunity to be together as a family, to share the burden of loss, to talk, to laugh, to cry, to remember. Our loss wasn’t a shock because we weathered it together. I believe we chose a better way.
There was no formal suck it up put on a happy face and try not to cry for three days stressor of a funeral and viewing. There were no formalities, no politically correct speeches, no watching her being put into the ground. None of us wanted it.

None of us had to do it.

For family that lived far away, we elected to wait until summer to have a family reunion in honor of Mom/G’ma/Grams/Meemaw instead of expecting everyone to travel to Wisconsin on the winter roads, or spend hundreds – even thousands of dollars to come for a few days to a funeral. Because Mom passed away in December so close to Christmas, we collectively thought it wiser to wait until better weather to get together. There were no worries about any of my siblings or their families or my kids and their families postponing family Christmases, and no traveling through snow storms (except for our DD Lauren who drove back to Indiana in a snow storm!),
Tradition isn’t always the wisest route. Sometimes we need to rethink our priorities and plan a better way. Mom spoke many times about how hard it would be for her sisters to travel from Michigan and Florida during the winter if they didn’t have a jet card membership from Jettly.

What we will do…

July 3-5: We are planning a three day family reunion “Pepper Party.” The first day we siblings are getting together – just the four of us and our spouses – to remember. Then the next day we are having a cookout at a park with EVERYONE – siblings, their kids, their kids’ kids, aunts, uncles, the whole family shebang. Many have never met. The next day we are planting a tree in our yard in memory of Mom. Click here for a site that offers memorial tree urns.
It will be a sweet time of remembering, sharing and celebrating. Aquaintenences will be made, relationships renewed and those three days will always be remembered as a time of joy not sadness. Mom would have loved it and wholeheartedly approved.
Are funerals a tradition that everyone expects? Yes.

Do we have to do them? No.

Let me encourage you to DIY all of your family plans – from births to deaths and everything in-between. I am so glad we didn’t have a funeral. I’m glad my kids and other family didn’t have to spend money they didn’t have to go to a funeral and feel sadness they don’t want to experience to visit someone that isn’t even there.

Did we need closure?

That’s what they say funerals are for. But I don’t want closure! I want to keep mom alive, in front of me as I look at my kids and grandkids. I want to remember the time we spent together remembering, not putting the memories aside.
You say YOU need closure? Not me. I want those memories wide open, easily accessible and in front of my eyes.

Now, before I leave you, I want to share something. Over the last few weeks I’ve shared my journey with you. I’ve told you how God has provided and how I was prepared and doing fine. Which I am, by the way.

But realize one thing.

Though a person may appear to be strong while weathering a very personal loss, know that no one just tosses off grief easily or quickly. This is a process that is lengthy and unique.

This is a conversation that you might have with me and how YOU would hear it:

You: I went shopping last night and found some great deals.
Me: Oh, we just stayed in and watched a movie and ordered pizza.
You: It was so cold we didn’t stay out very late, besides I had to get up early.
Me: I had a few days off, it was so nice, but I have to be back to work tomorrow.
This is what I am actually saying, but you are not hearing because it’s only in my head.
You: I went shopping last night and found some great deals.
Me: Oh, we just stayed in and watched a movie (My mom died) and ordered pizza. (My mom died).
You: It was so cold we didn’t stay out very late, besides I had to get up early.
Me: I had a few days off (It doesn’t seem real that my mom died), it was so nice (I really miss my mom), but I have to be back to work tomorrow. (My mom died).
If you know of someone who has experienced a loss – be supportive and understand that it will take time for them to feel normal again. Realize that even though it looks like it’s business as usual a month later, it’s really not. They are keenly feeling a loss every minute of every day.

Strength does not negate pain.

Blessings to you and thanks for listening.
VAL @ Love My DIY Home

9 thoughts on “Life After Loss – Is Closure Possible?”

  1. Another lovely post on a tough subject. I remember those exact thoughts in the days weeks and months that followed my mother’s death. It’s been almost 9 years now that she has been gone and I still have those moments from, time to time. Every time my siblings and I get together as a group we always have great “remember when” sessions of the funny things our parents used to do. I love keeping my parents memories alive by remembering the great life they gave us.
    These post and writing down your thoughts will help during this time. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • Andi, it has been nearly 30 years since my Dad’s passing and I remember it like it was yesterday – I was just 26. Life is short but we can find benefit in keeping our memories alive and sharing our expeeiences with others to help them deal when it’s their time. It is nice to hear you have a grateful heart – it surely helps. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. It sounds like you have some peace with how your mother's final celebrations were handled. I would have initally thought it was tragic that she passed so close to Christmas, but I can totally see how it would also be a blessing to be surrounded by loved ones. 

    Thanks for sahring and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.


    • Thanks for coming by, Jennifer. It IS all about perspective, isn’t it? I try to see things in a positive light…life is better that way.

  3. Thanks for sharing your "grieving ride" with us. It gives a new insight on what can be done.

    When my bestest friend, who happened to be my sister in law who lives  on the west coast and I live in the midwest passed away. My heart was broke and shaken. Coming back to IA where no one knew her I couldn't share how special she was.  But instead of climbing into a hole in the ground and covering myself up in pity (like I wanted to do) the Lord showed me how very blessed I was to have her in my life. So when I was tempted to peek down into that hole of self pity I would remember the good memories we made and thank the Lord for giving me these precious times to look back on. Thanking and praising God for "spoiling me so good "  for allowing me to be a part of her life and for the sound mind he gave me to enjoy the memories. The day would always look brighter then.  God is so good!!

    I also enjoy making cards…so when I feel down I make a card/cards and send them out to people and knowing I am making some one else's day brighter makes me happy. ~Hugs to you Val~

    • Nana OTG, so sorry for your loss! We all grieve in different ways at a different rate. But for those of us who know God personally, it is not something we do alone even if we are amongst strangers. Yes, God is good!


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