Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Frontline on PBS

I watched Frontline on PBS last night. It was on Undertaking, as in the people who prepare the deceased for a final visitation and burial. It was good, but made me cry all the way through it. It was a family of undertakers, the Grandfather had been an Undertaker, and his son, and multiple relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. There were 3 story lines. An elderly man and his wife, a young couple with a terminally ill infant, and a single elderly woman in a Hospice center.

The last one had several nieces and a cousin who visited her, but no one that was there all the time. When she died, the cremated her in a simple cardboard box and buried the ashes. There wasn't a visitation, there wasn't a funeral service, just an short interment service at the graveside. This one touched me, I must admit. She was so at peace with her life and death. It just was what it was, and that was all.

But the one that tore me apart was the young couple. All through this hour-long show the Owner of the funeral home was reading from his father's diary. It was from when he started as an Undertaker, and the insights he had. How he never kept child and infant caskets on hand, he ordered them as the need arose, how he never charged for the funeral services for children and infants. The infant had a very rare and fatal genetic disorder. The boy was 18 months before they managed to identify what was wrong, and he died at around 30 months old. It was so hard to watch as the parents came to terms with this final event, that they had watched their son die over the last 30 months and it was finally at an end. The mother kept talking about the connection she had with all of the other mothers in that graveyard, there were many headstones for children that had died, from newborns to toddlers to young children, and how the families had suffered this, and still they went on, and how she knew that she and her husband would do the same thing.

I probably shouldn't have been watching it, what with mom having cancer and treatment and all, but it struck such a chord with me. This is coming. Maybe not this year or next year, but it is coming. I'm sure that in years ahead, it will be good that I will have confronted this demon and made peace with it, but right now, it's pretty hard. It makes me doubt my faith, doubt my sanity, doubt the power of the medicine that keeps me in the middle of the road.

God, please keep me sane during all of this help me to remember your word and keep my faith strong Amen

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