Originally Posted by revolting
Hi my pagan mamas. Please light a candle for my grandmother who died yesterday morning. My grandmother spent decades smoking Camel Lights, drinking Oldstyle, and reading what she called "wicked" novels, which mostly consisted of romance novels. As children, she fed us the best homemade spaghetti sauce topped with cottage cheese by candlelight followed by Sundays. I can't imagine celebrating Thanksgiving without all those pies she baked every year even as she started to approach 90 years old or following the meal with her trash talking as we played cards: Only on Monday night she had bemoaned the difficulty of finding lard for pies nowadays as she started preparing to make her pies. Despite her age and her bouncing in and out of hospitals for the last few years, her rapid deterioration surprised me. By the time she passed, her body had swollen and blackened. She couldn't breathe unassisted and the BPAP that helped her made her miserable. She felt a lot of pain until the last few minutes where they sedated her with a whole lot of drugs. She held strongly to her conservative Lutheran beliefs, and I hope her belief that she would soon return to Jesus and her husband comforted her in the end. She always told me when I birthed my firstborn that she never expected to meet any of her great-grandchildren, and that she did get to meet my newborn helps ease some of the pain of her loss. We will attend the wake on Monday, a very traditional, Christian sort of thing that I have yet to process how I shall prepare the children since I keep my religious beliefs pretty private and I know that the wake and funeral will expose my children to some pretty conservative and what will seem to them unusual religious beliefs. Last time I attended a wake, one of my aunts reassured me of how the decease was the lucky one since he returned to Jesus, and that we are just sad for ourselves for losing him. My three year old still struggles to understand what happened to "Grandma Great," and my six year old still stays in denial. I will admit I struggle with her denial, with her focus on her excitement around seeing one of her cousins rather than the huge loss of her great-grandmother. I also struggle with a lack of closure around my grandmother's death: my grandmother obviously had something she wanted to communicate to us as she died, but the BPAP made her speech incomprehensible and the weakness of her disease left her unable to write. I've read through The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, but a lot of it didn't resonate with me. I hope to have an altar erected for her soon; my mother organized the funeral at a place a few blocks from my grandmother's home. I'd love prayers and songs to help me move through the grief but also feel respectful of my grandmother's beliefs.
BIG hugs, mama. I'm so sorry. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman and that you have a great legacy! I'm so glad you got to see her before she died, even if her dying was quick and maybe painful for her. My father died quickly, and while it was horrid for those of us left (so fast!) I think it was merciful for him that he didn't suffer long.
As for your kids-- I would probably just tell them "There may be lots of things you don't understand at the funeral. Just be quiet and respectful and any questions you have, I promise you we can talk later, when we're alone". And then you will have to follow through. At their ages, "Different people have different beliefs" is probably the main go-to phrase, and then you can briefly explain what "they" believe. They may ask what you believe. If you don't want to answer that yet, you can easily turn it on them and ask what they believe. Kids that age are really easily sidetracked!
When they ask where did Grandma Great go, you could say something like "She died. Some people think the spirit goes to Heaven. Some other people think X and some other people think Y. Grandma Great believed in heaven and we hope she's there"...or something like that.
Oh, mama. It sounds to me like you ought to keep up the pie tradition, and the spaghetti one, too, in her honor, when you feel up to it. HUGE hugs.
Also-- ETA-- I think it's pretty normal for a 6yo to focus on seeing her cousin. You could tell her that this is a very solemn occasion, and she must be serious during the wake, but that she can play afterwards at the "party"-- I don't know what it's called-- you know, where people gather after the wake with food and stuff.