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#1 Aug 15 2012 at 9:26 AM Rating: Excellent
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My grandmother passed away yesterday. At the ripe old age of 92 (she may have shaved off a few years from that age). My grandfather passed away about 6 years ago and they were childhood sweethearts so while the family is sad, we know that she's where she's been waiting to be, with my grandfather.

I got the phone call yesterday morning about an hour after she passed away. She died at the home she shares with my uncle and his wife. Charmaine and I were there 20 minutes after the call. I left the older 2 at home to spread the word. Although the authorities/mortuary was called, we asked that they do not pick up her remains yet as family was en route to spend these final moments with her. They gave us about 4 hours with her.

I know that this might seem odd (or more accurately batsh*t insane), but I am so very very glad that I was able to hold my grandmother's hand one final time even though her spirit departed a little while before. My family and I made sure that someone was sitting with her at all times while we were waiting for her to be picked up. I was one of the ones that spent the most time in the bedroom with her. Macabre? Perhaps. But my family is bred in the bone Filipino Catholic and it's not that strange to us. I will admit that my older 2 kids are probably happy that I didn't bring them with me. Charmaine sat with me and her great-grandmother for almost 2 hours. Other relatives were sitting on the bed with us, we talked, we laughed, we cried. And yes, we took pictures with our dead grandmother.

It's a complete cultural shock for some, I know that. Ray was thanking God that I told him to stay at his job and he was even more thankful when I told him that I won't show him the pictures. Even now, I'm cracking up because to try to explain to someone else how grateful I was that I had that time with my grandmother, I also know that they're completely cringing and howling in the inside.

Flea, do the Peruvians get down like this?

Oh, and it's only the beginning. 9 nights of the Rosary, the service, and then 40 days from yesterday, another prayer service.

And the food is going to be awesome. We killed a goat yesterday to eat it. (I do kid about the goat.)

Love you, Lola. RIP

Edited, Aug 15th 2012 8:55am by Thumbelyna
#2 Aug 15 2012 at 9:30 AM Rating: Excellent
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My condolences. I couldn't do that, but mostly because I'd spend an unhealthy amount of time staring at the body and screaming "SHE MOVED!"
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#3 Aug 15 2012 at 9:38 AM Rating: Excellent
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We would, and the more time spent, the closer the relative. My father was the fifth child, first surviving. Many pictures existed of my dead uncles in their little coffins being visited by family. I am aware at an intellectual level that the spirit has left the body, but I suppose it is comforting to think that the love of family and the strength of shared memories means they hang out nearby for a bit. I completely understand. I think during any loss, the hardest part is the burial. I think as long as you can still see the face, you still feel like the person is somewhat still there.
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#4 Aug 15 2012 at 9:58 AM Rating: Excellent
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Atomicflea wrote:
I think as long as you can still see the face, you still feel like the person is somewhat still there.


That's pretty much it. I had one crying episode on the drive down and then it wasn't until last night after everything was said and done that it finally hit me that I have no living grandparents now. It kills my heart to realize that I'm never going to see any of my grandparents at family parties or get-togethers anymore except in my memories.
#5 Aug 15 2012 at 2:29 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'm sorry, Thumb. My grandmother isn't doing so well right now, and it's killing me that I can't go be with her. I can understand the tradition, I don't find it cringeworthy at all.
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#6 Aug 15 2012 at 3:04 PM Rating: Excellent
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I can understand quite a bit. Around here, after the person is passed they're sent off to be dolled up by the mortuary and on the day before the funeral, there's a formal visitation, where everyone says goodbye while they're still visible in the casket, and then goes off to have a giant fatty mostly fried meal and talk about the person and the happy memories. The funeral is usually the next morning, or sometimes that sunset. I still remember how peaceful my dad looked inside the casket... My mom, on the other hand, was closed casket >_>;; They did their best, but there's not much you can do to fix up a murder victim Smiley: frown
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#7 Aug 15 2012 at 3:17 PM Rating: Excellent
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The services are next week and we're still having the open casket viewing and rosary and a funeral Mass the next day.

And I'm the grandchild that somehow has become the main point of contact for all funeral things. I sat in with my parents, aunts and uncles at the funeral home this morning to make the arrangements. I thank my grandparents for pre-planning and pre-paying almost all the funeral costs and the cemetery plot.
#8 Aug 15 2012 at 4:51 PM Rating: Excellent
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I am really surprised that no one threw out a Weekend at Bernie's joke. You guys are a lot more respectful than I give credit for. Smiley: flowers
#9 Aug 15 2012 at 6:39 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's very common in the South to stay with the body and to take photos of the deceased in the coffin. I always found it a bit odd, myself. I think maybe it has more to do with rural backgrounds and large extended families than Catholicism as such (although large extended families and Catholicism do have a fairly high correlation, one assumes).

I'm sorry for your loss, Thumb.
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#10 Aug 15 2012 at 7:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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Samira wrote:
It's very common in the South to stay with the body and to take photos of the deceased in the coffin.


I don't blink an eye at the taking pictures of the deceased in the coffin. We took it to a new level of taking pictures with her body in the bedroom, barely a couple of hours after she passed away and we're waiting for the mortuary to pick her up. My mother is the one that did the final clean up of her body (removed the IV, catheter, etc.) while we were waiting. That was surreal, but since my mom is a nurse, I'm thinking that she just went into work mode to keep any grief away while doing that. That was the strongest I've ever seen my mom be and it opened my eyes to another side of her and just made me proud.

And I guess I'm giving the eulogy. *sigh*
#11 Aug 15 2012 at 7:33 PM Rating: Excellent
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There was a fairly macabre fad during the late 19th Century that included dressing dead family members up and posing them in everyday settings to take pictures of them. So, children's bodies would be dressed up and posed as if they were playing, for example. I guess it helped people cope in an era when photography was uncommon and (I guess?) relatively expensive, and no one took candid photos of their families at every opportunity as we tend to do now.
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#12 Aug 16 2012 at 6:59 AM Rating: Excellent
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"Here's me and Billy in Hawaii. He's the one in the coffin. And one of us in Califrnia, he's the one in the coffin. And one in Texas. I'm the one in the coffin. Billy was such a kidder."
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#13 Aug 16 2012 at 8:23 PM Rating: Excellent
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Samira wrote:
There was a fairly macabre fad during the late 19th Century that included dressing dead family members up and posing them in everyday settings to take pictures of them. So, children's bodies would be dressed up and posed as if they were playing, for example. I guess it helped people cope in an era when photography was uncommon and (I guess?) relatively expensive, and no one took candid photos of their families at every opportunity as we tend to do now.


It also was proof that the baby or child existed. I recall reading about a problem from the middle of the 20th century, where hospitals would take away stillborn babies without even letting the mother see the corpse, because it was (incorrectly) believed to be less traumatizing. That practice ended once the psychologists realized it was doing more permanent trauma to the mothers, who had nothing physical for which to grieve. I think the opposite end of the spectrum is the Santorum creepy level, where the entire family slept with the stillborn baby in the house before it was buried. I'm not going to tell grieving family members how to deal with the loss of a baby, but I'm still a bit squicked out by that whole story.

Edited, Aug 16th 2012 10:24pm by catwho
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I can't understand anyone who skips the cutscenes of a Final Fantasy game. That's like going to Texas and not getting barbecue.

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#14 Aug 16 2012 at 9:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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You could prove the child existed without dressing it up in frills and posing it with a ball, or whatever.

It's the mimicry of life that I find somewhat disturbing in context, not the photography as such.
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#15 Aug 17 2012 at 5:48 AM Rating: Excellent
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Sorry for your loss Thumb. My condolences.
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