Wednesday, March 30, 2016

the sorrow one week later

Thank you so so much for the kind comments, emails, suggestions, cards, texts and comfort in response to all the sadness and sorrow I feel after my life partner's unexpected death a week ago. I will do my best to get in touch with you all when some time has passed and I'm not engulfed in practicalities.

A good friend said the other day that sorrow is striped. And that is such a simple and yet mindblowing description of all these feelings that keep on coming and going, from the inside out and outside in.

Since we didn't share address or lived 100% under the same roof (because that's how we both wanted it) I'm well aware that my legal status is zero (and no we didn't have a written agreement or a will) and that his elderly parents will inherit everything. I do hope I'll be able to get some of the things I've given him, things he bought on our trips, photos and other memories. Other than that I now have very little hope this will be a fair and decent aftermath.

Because even though we spent nearly 27 years together - which is a scary thing to admit since that makes me feel quite quite old, but there you have it. He was 9 years my senior and we met in 1989 through a friend I studied law with - I'm clearly the one person who knows knew (past tense, how long will it be before past tense comes naturally?) him best (he certainly didn't share a lot with his parents or brother/sister-in-law, that much is so very clear when we talk about him and our life together...), spent the most time and talk with him during these years, I am apparently not regarded important enough to be on top in the list of mourners in the obituary.

Instead his parents saw it appropriate that they should be mentioned first - for a grown man in a long-term relationship - followed by the brother and sister-in-law (whom we spent time with about twice a year) and me last. My status is clearly that of a dog. Or possibly a grandchild.

When I got home from the 2,5 hours long, grueling meeting at the undertaker yesterday I was devastated. I don't think an obituary as such is a very important thing, but if they wanted to have one that was of course fine. And if so, just as natural was that the long-term partner should be mentioned first. Instead they diminished me and our years together into a parenthesis.

I talked with my brother-in-law and his wife about my feelings and they understood, however M's parents refuse to change the order, they adamantly see it fit they should be first - no matter how disrespectful that is to not least to their son - so now I'm second instead. One step up from dog status.

In no way am I trying to diminish their sorrow and loss, it must be horrific to lose a child, even if he's long since a grown-up with his own life (and it was his father who found M dead). But the way they act as if I'm some peripheral female M spent time with now and then, perhaps during weekends and the odd holiday, over all these years, that really puts things in perspective. And put some extra hurt into the striped pain.

I have decided I will now put my own obituary in the newspaper in a week or two. And frame it as I like. And as M would have enjoyed.

To make matters worse, the parents and brother thought it was appropriate to after the open funeral service only invite the immediate family (to which they count aunts, uncles and cousins who he/we've perhaps met once or twice a year throughout our time together) to the memorial after. But what about our friends and his friends (of which I haven't met everyone, we both have/had friends the other one didn't know a lot about)? And his collegues? Why should those people he spend much more time with than his relatives be seen as people less deserving of being invited to the memorial, less mourning?

If I could I would much rather not attend the funeral but hold a separate and private one to which I invited the people I know mattered in his/our life. That's of course not feasible, but still I like the notion of it.

The funeral ceremony (civil of course) will be held on April 20. The day in between what would have been his birthday and my mother's birthday. Not ideal at all, but there it is.

We had planned most of the funeral already before the above took place, I'm sure it will be beautiful. But the meeting with the officiant is still left. After all this happened I will not attend the meeting with the rest of the family next week, but instead meet with him on my own. Ideally before they do.

Who knew that these last couple of weeks would be so full of situations where I had to be true to myself and stand up for that? And him.


Unknown said...

So very sad, so sorry to read of the turn of events. But what you and Mads was so very special, nothing can take that away from you and your memories - and knowledge - will Always tell you that you had such a very special place in his heart and in his life.

Feisty Harriet said...

Oh honey, I am so sorry. It seems that death can bring out the absolute worst in some people (I've seen it in my own family a number of times) and it just...ugh. I wish I knew what to say. Sending more hugs.


Elephant's Child said...

I am so very sorry. And familiar with similar family ugliness.
Oceans of caring are flooding your way.

Poppy Q said...

So sorry Pia that along with the stress of his passing, you have had to put up with all the other hassles. My Dad died just six weeks ago, and luckily my brother and I knew what his wishes were and things went smoothly. Some people were upset with us about the quiet service that Dad requested, but we knew we were following his wishes.

Maybe you and your friends could have a memorial get together of your own, I am sure they will be understanding of the dilemma you are in.

Big hugs.
Julie and Poppy Q

DahnStarr said...

Oh, Pia ... fully understand the issue with the obituary. When my father passed away my mother wasn't up to writing his and told me I could do it. Truth be told she didn't think one was necessary but I took that to be her grief speaking. After I wrote it I contacted my uncle to get additional information and to let him know that I was going to place it in my father's childhood town's local newspaper. I was sternly told that he, my father's bother, was taking care of that and I was not use mine...I was put in my place. So, we (mother and I) had our obituary for my father run here and my uncle did his there. From that phone call, I learned that we all have very different relationships with the people we love. We usually only see that person from our view point ... we know them best. I think its a great idea to write your own obituary for him and let people see that side of your "M"...the one that you love and have known for all these years.

Don't let his family make you feel bad about being listed last in their obituary. Remember, "we save the best for last" ... like semla! (Also remember, as you have taught me, being a dog can be a lot better than being a people.)

Stay strong!

Lizzy said...

Oh, Pia! Losing a loved one is hard enough. I'm sorry you have to go through extra and unnecessary drama. I think it would be lovely if you had your own sort of "memorial service" or get-together at your place and invited your friends to remember M. Whatever you decide to do, I send you thoughts of strength and peace. xo

Growing Up Gramma said...

Pia, pick a day sometime soon and have a very casual memorial for you and his friends. It doesn't need to be elaborate. A cookout at a park, a pot luck at a friend's, something simple, intimate and calming. Something where everyone feels free to tell their favorite M stories,where laughter and tears intermingle. A simple afternoon of love and mutual support. You and your/his friends deserve it, and need it.

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