When your child dies, you are forced to make decisions that you never wanted to make, never expected to make, couldn’t/wouldn’t/refused to ever imagine. Despite the disbelief, the despair, the confusion, you have to decide – and quickly – what to do with the lifeless body of your once breathing, loving, laughing, making-a-difference-in-the-world child.
With Dustin, that entailed considering costs, what he would want himself, and his physical condition: was he viewable? (“was he viewable?” Even today, remembering that question in my mind brings on agonizing tears).
Thankfully, though it was an emotional process, everything just kind of worked out: Dustin’s appearance was nearly perfect; my cousin, president of Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial - probably the most beautiful mortuary in the area -, took care of all arrangements wonderfully; and the insurance company paid for everything (eventually).
Dustin would have loved the gathering of family during his viewing, he would have joined in with his friends passing the bottle (there was much shouting and laughing behind closed doors), and he would approve of the lovely wooden urn chosen to contain his ashes.
This particular issue is just one of many responsibilities to be borne by a grieving family after a violent death such as Dustin’s. Once I gather my thoughts further, I will post about another unexpected and especially unwelcome responsibility thrust upon us during our first months of mourning. And then after that, hopefully I can write about what is really weighing heavy on my mind.
|Laying out his funeral clothes|