The next day, Monday, was a very full day – both physically and emotionally. Kevin had been removed to the funeral home the night before and we had agreed to meet with a funeral director there at 2 pm the next day (or Monday). Prior to going to the funeral home we used the morning to disassemble most of the home supports we had in the house and move them to the garage. This was a significant undertaking since we had a fair number of assistive devices in the house. Both my sons were awesome at getting it done quickly and uneventfully. They disassembled the electric bed in the living room, removed the bed rails, bedside table, tripod bar, bath seat, rollator, commode, floor to ceiling support bar and oxygen pump to the garage. It was a lot of hardware but the various agencies had already contacted us indicating that they would be sending trucks to pick it up within a day or two. Since we were otherwise preoccupied with planning a funeral it seemed easier to store the hardware in the garage so we wouldn’t have workers wandering throughout the house.
There was the matter of the pain pump as well. This piece of machinery they picked up within 24 hours of Kev’s passing. The pump dispensed liquid morphine and I had a small supply that they wanted back and fast. They were at the house late Monday afternoon and the hardware and all residual drugs – liquids and pills – were retrieved and removed by the service agency. I must admit it felt good to have it out of the house. Literally the medications had taken up a shelf in one of my kitchen cupboards.
Monday afternoon we went to meet with the funeral director. I already knew I wanted the service on Thursday and a visitation on Wednesday and fortunately the funeral home was able to accommodate my wishes. Thus the first thing we needed to action was the obituary. I wanted it in Tuesday and Wednesday’s papers for sure, to allow adequate notification for family, friends and co-workers to attend. We did a quick write-up and provided a photo that the kids had chosen – happy, earthy and truly representative of their father – it was a good choice, right down to the peace sign on his shirt. The obituary out of the way we had to do the actual planning. This is where personal preferences come in. If you want an open casket then embalming costs are incurred, if you want cremation more costs. Kevin had wanted to be cremated but he also felt that an open casket would provide closure as well as allow family and friends the chance to insert little keepsakes or gestures to send him on his way. He also wanted a casket that people could sign; surprisingly this was not a new request for the funeral home. It did limit our choice of caskets to two unfinished poplar caskets or a cardboard recyclable coffin. Although he probably would have loved the cardboard, I just couldn’t do it. After selecting the coffin, we had to choose an urn for his ashes.
Then back to the primary meeting room where we selected the flowers – a display for husband, dad and granddad. We also needed to discuss who would perform the service and the general format of the service. We picked out a register for people to sign. There was a discussion about photo boards, which we wanted to put up (again my children, I just had no capacity to do this). What about a powerpoint? Would we be having music during the visitation? Would we be using music for the actual service? Was there something in particular we wanted on the Memorial Cards that would be by the register? Would we be bringing in any of Kevin’s original art, if so, where did we want it placed? Did we want flowers – if we did then we would be responsible for removing them all. If no flowers, what instructions did we have for donations? I’m sure there were more decision points but after a while I was spent and couldn’t decide anything. Fortunately my sister and my three children were there to carry me through. How I love my family.
Based on the anticipated numbers of people the funeral home was unable to accommodate our reception afterwards, so they provided us with some alternative venues to consider. This was an unexpected complexity but again, I left it to the kids (who aren’t really kids at 30, 27 and 25) and they came through with flying colours. I have to thank my sister-in-law too, she had suggested the venue we ended up at even before we had our meeting with the funeral home since she knew we were going to have a fairly large turnout.
That was my Monday. A lot of decisions on a day when a pervasive numbness consumed me. The next couple of days would be equally demanding while the fog I was in seemed to get denser and denser.