Home » Family » A Proper Send-Off

A Proper Send-Off

I know I promised you the moon today, Marina, but I feel compelled to write something else.  Tomorrow good for you?  I sure hope so.

I am sitting in my quiet house, having just returned from Patrice‘s funeral.  The boys stayed behind with their gang to celebrate him the way twenty-somethings “should” – starting with a shotgun beer in the parking lot, no doubt, followed by who-knows-what and I should not know.


Visitation was held from 10:00 am till 3:00 pm today (plus four hours yesterday from 4:00-8:00 pm) followed by the religious ceremony in the chapel, which was the room right beside – a rarity, not the chapel, but the religious ceremony.  Most of my family came and it was no easy feat for all the “kids” who had hung out with Pat on the cruise. It was just so surreal.

There is a different dynamic when the deceased is a twenty-two-year-old healthy, full-of-life type.  I’ve been to far too many forty-somethings and fifty-somethings funerals already since, let me see, 2001 – so almost twenty years.  And I thought THEY were all too young.  So this?  No. Almost impossible to wrap one’s head around it.

Life celebrations have gone from boards with pictures or albums on tables showing the life of the loved one to movies or montages of their life scrolling in an endless loop.  I thought seeing a fifty-year old’s was hard. This was a punch in the solar plexus.  They had a corner for Pat’s art, a long table with various pictures and favourite pieces such as a hockey shirt, his football trophies and such and, of course, a beautifully done video.  And, oh Lordy.  I was not ready to see him lying in his coffin.  Everyone gets cremated now.  Visitation is an urn with a 16″ X 20″ (or two) photo beside the urn. Not this time. They went old-school for this.

The place was packed with mask-wearing mourners of all ages.  the priest came in and told us that he would give one prayer and then ask us to make our way next door to the chapel, leaving the family to say their final farewell in private.

Standing by your bench, watching your own twenty-two-year-old and his four friends, plus Pat’s cousin, roll the casket to the front, while this song is playing is sobering.  These young men were doing their best to hold it together as they performed their solemn duty, then sat together and let their emotions do what was needed.  This song just about killed me.

Father Sylvain was perfect.  He said beautiful things and asked those who pray to pray; never preaching

Jules, Marilyn and Maude (his parents and sister) came up and Jules spoke for them. He started off by saying he promised Pat he wouldn’t cry and he spoke beautifully, his composure cracking only at the end; his wife and daughter on either side of him, giving him what he needed to push through.  My heart broke for them.

I know Pat’s family chose music that he loved and when this song played, I watched as their heads bopped to the beat. I know it wasn’t the lyrics they were feeling.

Father Sylvain introduced Charles-Olivier to come and say a word and the five young men stood up as one, the four surrounding him as he read the beautiful post he wrote the day he found out he lost his friend, his gym partner, his clown, the one who always said how much he loved them who was now his guardian angel.

There were the usual blessings and the thank yous and, as the following song played, we were all invited to come up and use the provided Sharpies (and Purell) to write something on the casket.  Now THAT is a beautiful thing.

May I say that I do not want to do this again.



128 thoughts on “A Proper Send-Off

  1. My heart goes out to you and to everyone who loved him. A ceremony like that can’t help but be heartbreaking. It sounds like it was done very thoughtfully, giving the different pieces that differnet people need. Your description brings me back to that day when I was the other side, as the young person who just lost someone my age and it’s almost as raw as it was those decades ago. And even then (being stupid and young, it seems now) my heart went more to his mother than any of us. To lose a child that young, I just can’t imagine how someone bears it. And yet people do, because they have to. Ugh, nothing helpful to say so just: sending hugs. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so sorry, Dale. I don’t know what to say. You wrote a lovely musing on his death–way too young; tragic, and so many grieving and trying to make sense out of something that makes no sense. Thinking of you and of all his loved ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you never EVER EVER have to do this again.
    I’m so sorry. And I know. I know how hard it is. It is important you were there. But it does not make the heartbreak any less. Perhaps more. Knowing how important it was, you were there.
    And angels weep.
    Hugs to you, dear one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful piece. The funeral director in me observes that y’all remembered him as he was when he was alive and it was a good send off. Unfortunately, the older we get, the more funerals we go to. Virtual hugs from Charleston, SC.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ray. Of course we do. In his short life, he took it by the horns.
      Problem is, I’ve experienced way more death than I should have by now, already. And most of them under the age of 55.


  5. It’s just so hard when it is somebody so young. Just so hard. The loss one feels when somebody passes who is 60 or 70 or 80 is hard, but it’s a completely type of difficulty than when a young person passes unexpectedly. A couple of years ago, my father-in-law passed. He was somewhere around 86 or 87 and, to be honest, had lived longer than expected given his health issues. When his funeral happened, I helped my wife write what she wanted to say at his funeral, knowing full well that I would be doing the reading since there was no way she would be able to get through it. Honestly, I struggled mightily with reading what we had written — not at the loss of her father, but at the pain I knew she was feeling.

    But, all sorts of years earlier, my best friend died suddenly. At the age of 30. We were born 10 days apart.

    A couple of years after he was our best man. A few months after our first child was born and he brought a baseball glove as a gift — because he knew how much I liked baseball. And then one day, I got a call telling me he had died in a hospital emergency room because of a heart attack. At an age when that simply isn’t supposed to happen. And the pain and the loss and the anguish still remains. Yes, I don’t wallow in it, but there remain moments when I wonder and I feel the loss. Because it’s just not supposed to happen that way.

    I hope you get a break from all of this. That you have at least a few years in which you don’t have deal with the sting of loss, of lives cut short far too soon. And that you experience some joy and happiness that counteract the loss you have experienced over the years. I really do. You deserve it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it is so bloody hard when they are so young. You want to do the “why”, though I never do. 30 is too young, too and it must have been sheer anguish for you. I can list off names of people of varying levels of friendship, all 50 and younger, then can tack on two that were 52 and 56. Still too damn young.

      I hope so, too! I don’t know why I am so familiar with death; I sure as hell don’t seek it out but man… cancers (mostly) and heart attack and such. I’d definitely like a break.


      • I agree. “Why?” is a futile question in these circumstances. It is what it is. These things happen some times. It’s a lottery. A roll of the dice.

        What bothers me about it is that whenever it happens, those around me (including myself) always engage in the “we’re going to learn from this and not take life for granted and live every day and” do this and do that. And then that doesn’t really happen. It would be nice to see those words and thoughts actually be put into real action. I’m just as guilty of it, but I wish there was a way we could live our lives more fully than we do. Or can. Because … it is a lottery. And that’s a difficult thing to figure out how to deal with.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve never been a ‘why?’ person. Why not? They do happen to all sorts of people. No one is exempt (though some really do seem to sail through scot-free, eh?)

          I have to tell you I am not necessarily of the “learn from this” camp as much as the “live each day to the fullest”… or at the very least “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “don’t waste your energy where it is not necessary”. I think that is what has happened to me. Why I ended up in Tuscany in 2016 by myself. And even why I ended up becoming a waitress, having never done it before. Why not? I was tired of the office stuff and wanted to try something new. K. Did it and am ready for something else now 😉

          This bloody virus has put the kibosh on everyone’s plans so I won’t bitch and moan about being stuck… But I’ll choose to think something better is lurking.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Your last paragraph … tell me a out it. I “retired” at the end of February knowing that the pension wasn’t enough, at least for a few more years, and fully intended on finding some additional work to supplement it. Consulting, or legal work somewhere, somehow. But a lot of that has dried up because government agencies are cutting budgets – so they aren’t hiring. And private companies are slashing spending as well, so they aren’t hiring consultants. I’m at somewhat of a loss now. And, what I really would like to do is just go work at a pizza place or a bar, pouring beer for people, and those jobs don’t really exist at the moment either. So … I’m a bit flummoxed. But fortunately, I’ve got that pension and enough money put away that I can get through a bit of this.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah. I hear ya. That would be fun – once this all… Yeah, right.
            One hopes that when one receives a pension that it is sufficient to live. Bloody hell. I never stayed anywhere long enough to build one. Well, not that I’m not building one but not one where the company puts in. I managed a locked in $20K at one place. The rest is what Mick and I put away over the years. So I ain’t in any retirement position yet.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Well … I did “retire” earlier than I probably should have. If I worked a few more years, things would look slightly better. But for my mental and emotional health, I simply couldn’t work in that job anymore. I did what I needed to do to protect my health. Now, I just need to figure out the path I need to travel on for the next few years.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish I could offer a prayer, but I don’t know any. Wish I could write a song for you, but I don’t do that. I’ve been to the funeral of a young man before, one I barely knew – barely even knew the family, but my dad and mom did, so I went. That was last year. Open casket too. When the family started wailing near the end of the ceremony, I felt like I’d been decimated. Just ripped down as though someone was insisting that I be rebuilt, and that I be better, and protect the young people who deserve to have their years ahead of them.

    I don’t know what else to say, Dale. This was really hard to read, but more importantly, it must have been so hard to be there, and to share in that pain. Wishing you my best, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was thankfully no wailing at this one. But watching those young men try to stay so stoic – that just about broke my heart. My nieces and nephew and friend who were all on the cruise with us in March got to know Pat (or got to know him more), and when they walked in all of them started to cry; hell, so did my two sisters and brothers-in-law. It was heartbreaking. Five months prior we had all been dancing and making merry with each other.

      No need to say anything, Trent. I appreciate you reading this, despite it being hard. It helps to write it out. I apologise for my tardy reply. At work today, I read your comment and wanted to respond properly which is hard when service is crap in my dungeon.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely and truly heartbreaking tribute dearest Dale. I’m crying buckets of tears although I knew no one of them. But all those losses, young human beings, parents losing their child, the tragedy of it all, it kills me. And it renders me even more thankful for my protected life, where our worries and sorrows are nothing in comparison to the daily misery and truly terrible tragedies we see around us.
    Blessings, courage, to Pat’s family, friends, you and all in that and similar situations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sweet Kiki. It was so hard to see the young men struggling to remain stoic, but holding each other up. His family and girlfriend – I know – were in a fog, which helps you deal with the hugs and condolences.
      Time to heal, now.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dale, this was certainly a heart wrenching experience. The friends of Pat showed their love and support of him and each other while staying true to themselves. I know this brought back difficult memories for you. Love and peace. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a lovely post, written with so much love and even a bit of the kind of humor that only mothers with boys seem to have. I’ve known young men, in my family and community, who died much too young. Even 40–odd years later, I still wonder what they would be doing now if they had lived. I think it is a different kind of grief when you lose someone so young and for your son and his friends, well, my heart goes out to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marie. Always a touch of humour from me. Years of dealing with my own stuff.
      Yeah. We can’t help but wonder.
      I feel sad for the parents, having been there myself. I feel sad for his girlfriend, losing her love, having been there and I feel sad for all the friends who should not be losing friends so young.
      Thank you for your kind words

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, Dale. This brought me to tears. He looks so alive, so young, so healthy in his pic. I am sure that was a difficult service for everyone–I can’t imagine having to mourn someone so young. Hugs to you and yours–and much, much love. Let’s hug the ones we love tonight, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

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