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trojancaroline

Memorial service protocol

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Hi Everyone, 

I appreciate anyone's input on this, I've never experienced anything like this loss before. I am 33 and have lost grandparents and an uncle but never anyone so close to me. My best friend and roommate my last two years of college passed away in October. We had lost touch over the years but our bond was very deep and the relationship was very meaningful to me. I am devastated by the news and by what happened to my sweet sweet friend. 

I really, really want to have a small memorial service for my friend at our university at a garden we used to go to. Her birthday is coming up. I wanted to know if this is appropriate? The circumstances around her death are terrible. Alcoholism tore her life apart. I know at the end of an alcoholic's life, everyone is gone. I missed the family's service back in October, but I heard it was informal and small. I really want to celebrate her life.

Would it be hurtful for me to contact her mother to invite her if I have a memorial? Is it okay for me to have a memorial for my friend, even if we had lost touch for a few years? I don't want to add to the family's grief or sadness or intrude on their grieving. My own feels quite overwhelming. But I want to honor my friend and celebrate her life and how much she meant to me. I have never gone through anything like this before and don't know what is the right or wrong thing to do. Her mother threw my 21st birthday party and we were very close. We spent Christmases, New Years, birthdays, vacations, holidays, and so many memories together. I want to reach out to her mother but I don't want to upset her more.

I feel quite isolated right now. I don't get the sense that anyone in my life really understands my sadness because we had not been in touch for a few years. But I had always thought we would reconnect one day. Our lives had so many parallels that make our experiences feel like mirror images; we could have ended up, easily, in the same place. I am not close to my own family and don't have a partner right now. I don't know how I'm supposed to feel or if my grief is inappropriate, but I'm just devastated. 

I appreciate everyone's thoughts and input.

Thank you.

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I've had friends like that...no matter how much time in between visits, when you got together, all the time melted away and you were immediately back were you were.  Those friendships are priceless.

I not only don't think it inappropriate, I think it'd be a great honor to your friend.  The family may or may not want to attend...it might rip open wounds they'd rather leave alone, or it might mean the world to them.  I would go ahead and plan it and by all means invite them and leave it up to them if they wish to attend.  Do you know others that would attend if you have it?

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Thank you, KayC, I am so grateful for your words and thoughts. I do have other friends from those days who would be able to come and celebrate her life too. I know many of us were very shocked and sad to hear about her passing and I want to honor that slice of our lives. It's hard to know what is the right thing to do with the passage of time and a lot of hurt that got built up. I really appreciate your input and understanding! 

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My dear, you sound like a very kind and thoughtful young lady, and I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.

Your story reminds me of another person who wrote to me after his best friend died. He wanted so badly to reach out to his friend's mother, but was reluctant to do so because he wasn't sure how she would react. In this exchange entitled In Grief: Mourning The Death of A Friend, you can read what I said to this young man about his dilemma, along with what he decided to do and how it turned out for him. You might find his story helpful as you decide whether to contact your friend's mom and whether to invite her to the memorial you are planning ~ and be sure to see some of the articles about friend loss listed at the end, too.

As you think about creating your memorial service, you may find this article helpful as well (along with the related articles included there too): Grief Rituals Can Help on Any Special Day

Finally, for what it's worth, I am a mom myself, and I can assure you that, if one of my grown sons had died and one of his best friends ever called to invite me to a memorial service she was planning in his honor, it would warm my heart to know that I was not the only one who loved and missed my son ~ and I'd be deeply touched that she cared enough to want to include me in her remembrance of him.  

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I read the article Marty listed In Grief: Mourning The Death of A Friend, and found it to be very helpful.  I also lost a good friend a year ago and was unable to attend the funeral.  She didn't have parents to visit and the whole family is clear across the state or out of state, but I have been in touch with them on FB and it helps to have contact with them there and remember things about her, especially as she's had grandbabies and our kids grew up together and were best friends.  I feel like there's this invisible connection to her that will always be, and just like my husband is waiting for me on the other side, so is Kay (we even share the same name).  

So I hope this article is of help to you also, I've saved it and want to thank you, Marty, for listing it.  You are amazing at pulling out just the right resource when we need it!

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Thank you guys, both of you have been so kind and helpful. I really appreciate your words and the input. Marty, your blog is a wonderful resource! I am so grateful for both of you and the guidance. 

I spent some time with old friends which was really wonderful. I also spoke with her mom, which made me feel better, and went to her funeral home and spent some time in her hometown. Nothing will ever be the same, I don't even really know how to describe it but it's like I couldn't turn around and go back if I wanted to. That side of life (the before) is completely walled off forever. I feel like I'm pounding my fists into the wall trying to break it down and get back to the other side but that side is gone forever. Today would have been my friend's 33rd birthday. I am planning a memorial for her for January and feel bolstered by your words. It will be really important to me to formally say goodbye.

It's weird being in certain situations right now. Like nobody in my present day life knew this friend, but it's strange to me that people aren't all talking about it. I expected to see a piece about her death on the national news, even though it is unremarkable to everyone else in the world. But it has been a world-shattering event to me, and it's a strange thing to wrap my head around the idea that something so profound and tragic can happen and it is nothing to other people, just another random every day dead person. I found myself in some pointless conversation with someone at work about I don't even know what the other day. A conversation I'm sure I would have been happy and engaged with weeks ago, but all I could think was do you even have any idea about this world? Do you have any idea what has happened? It's very isolating and I feel separate from other people.

I'm so grateful for this forum, Kay, & your blog, Marty! People don't respect friend grief and to be honest, I didn't either until this experience. But it has truly knocked me out of my socks. What a horrible way to learn that lesson, but I am appreciative of you guys both for your guidance.

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16 hours ago, trojancaroline said:

Like nobody in my present day life knew this friend, but it's strange to me that people aren't all talking about it. I expected to see a piece about her death on the national news, even though it is unremarkable to everyone else in the world. But it has been a world-shattering event to me, and it's a strange thing to wrap my head around the idea that something so profound and tragic can happen and it is nothing to other people, just another random every day dead person.

I remember feeling this way when my husband died.  All his friends, family, job, everyone moved on but me.  Me...I couldn't understand how the sun could go on shining!  It seemed to me to be the end of the world, but to everyone else it was everyday as normal.  it can feel very surreal.  People don't seem to respect ANY grief!

I wish you well in the upcoming months, I know it's a lot to adjust to and get used to.  You're right, for you everything has changed.  But as long as you live, she will be remembered in your heart, so I hope that brings you consolation.  We are the torch-bearers.

My little sister's child died 24 years ago yesterday.  They no longer shed the tears, they've gotten more used to the changes it meant for their lives, but ALWAYS they will remember her.  

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I think the memorial is a wonderful idea. My sister in law does one every year for her sister who passed away at 15. Its a celebration of her life and a wonderful way to remember those we love. Over the years many people come who did not know her but are now a part of the family's life. Good luck with it!

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