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Chapel of Rest

(23 Posts)
Lelex Sat 09-Jul-11 12:53:07

My Aunty died at the great age of 100 a week ago today. I am distraught by this. I only went to see her once in the hospital and even then I broke down into tears. After that arrangements were being made for her to go back to her residential home because things were looking up. I told my Mum to pass on the message that I would go see her again when she's back in the residential home. My mum stayed with her 8 nights in a row. She was there when my Aunty peacefully passed away in her sleep. So she wasn't on her own. So I never got chance to go see her again and I feel so bad for it, it's eating away at me. She was a lovely lady and I've grown up with going to see her all the time. She's the first person I've lost that is close to me. The funeral is on wednesday. But I've decided I want to go to the chapel of rest to see her and say my final goodbyes. I feel that I need to do it. I'm going to put in a teddy she gave me and write her a letter. I haven't got a clue what to write. It'd be helpful to know people's experiences if they have ever gone to see a loved one in the chapel of rest. I know for a fact that I'll get upset, maybe even freak out a bit. But I need to do this to put my mind at rest. People have said don't let it ruin the good memories I have of her. But I don't intend on doing that. Yes it will stick with me forever but it can't overtake the good memories. Sorry for the essay. This is the first time I've spoke about it properly.

ajandjjmum Sat 09-Jul-11 12:57:01

Lelex
Sorry for your loss.
I can only say that my feeling when seeing my Dad was 'that's not my Dad' - he wasn't there, although his body was. I'm glad I went though.
What about buying a special teddy for you to leave with her, and keep the one that she gave to you - it's obvious very precious to you.

PonceyMcPonce Sat 09-Jul-11 12:57:08

To be honest after a week, your great aunt is going to look different. She truly will be a preserved shell of her former self. I did not find it helpful.

However, what is usually an option, is for the funeralmdirector to close the casket, and allow you some private time with your loved one. I found it helpful to talk aloud. They will also put things in for you.

Sorry for your loss.

PonceyMcPonce Sat 09-Jul-11 13:00:06

Also, I found it helpful to have a photo with me to speak to. We put a large portrait on the casket at the funeral too, which e eryone liked. It reminded us of the person, rather than the remains.

Lelex Sat 09-Jul-11 13:04:47

Thank you for your replies - I've been told they look like a totally different person. I can't go and visit her until Monday, not sure why it's took so long though. But I am going to see her on Tuesday. When I first mentioned it to my Mum, she said no, as I am only 17 but then she realised it's something that I really want to do and she has said either her or my Sister will go with me. The teddy that I have got is actually what my Mum bought for her. But when she moved out of her flat and into the residential home, she gave it us to keep, along with some other stuff instead of throwing it away. Maybe I should get a special teddy, but I'm not sure what sort? This will take quite a long time to get used to, she had such a big impact on our family.

Lelex Sat 09-Jul-11 13:07:19

I had the photo's from her 100th birthday. One where she is sat with my Mum holding a 100th birthday balloon and she looks really happy. I went to get that printed out and put it in a frame which is sat in our living room. I don't want to sound stupid, but what is a casket? Is that the actual coffin? I haven't had to deal with this before so I have no idea.

PonceyMcPonce Sat 09-Jul-11 13:15:26

Sorry, casket is rectangular shape rather than coffin shape. No real difference, just what I am used to.

Continuum Sat 09-Jul-11 13:37:27

At 17 I chose not to go and see my Nana in the chapel of rest and I don't regret that one bit, so if you know you want to, even though it will be difficult, then it is obviously the right decision for you. I did give my mum a poem I'd written to put in the coffin though.

My dad died the year before last and I was with him in the hospital when he died, then they asked us to leave while they took tubes out, cleaned him up etc. and I went back to see him I think it was an hour or hour and a half later and sat with him for a while. It's surprising how much he didn't look like my dad and how pale he was, even though I'd watched him grow more pale as he died. It was so difficult, but also so much easier seeing a dead body than I thought it would be and I am grateful I have that memory. Which probably seems an odd thing to say really, or maybe not. Maybe it just makes it easier to accept or something. It certainly doesn't change the good memories.

Anything you get for her will be suitable because you will have chosen it with love and with her in mind and whatever you write will be suitable. The poem I gave my mum for my Nana was actually a humorous one about her because I used to write these silly poems and my Nana loved them!

Lelex Sat 09-Jul-11 13:59:32

I am sorry to hear about your losses Continuum. I guess people's minds work in different ways, everyone who's been through it will have different reasons for if they went to the chapel of rest to see a loved one or not. My mum was with my Aunty when she passed, she'd stayed with her all night 8 nights in a row. I can only imagine how difficult that was, as I've never been present when someone has died. That doesn't sound odd at all, not to me anyway. I will be grateful for the chance I've been given to go and see her. I'm no good with poems, so shall probably write some sort of letter. I think I might ask for a moment on my own, just talk to her. She'll still be around in spirit so hopefully she will hear everything that I say.
Thank you for the post. I feel kind of alone at this moment in time. My other half is no good with comforting in these sort of situations, I kind of resent him for that, but I guess people deal with things differently. I just wish he was there for me more. My mum, sister, grandad etc know I'm upset. But I can't tell them how I'm really feeling without bursting into tears. I cried a little bit writing my first post but with something like this I know I can get everything out in the open and will have people posting back who have been through the same. I guess this is the only comfort I'm kind of getting at the minute.

hellymelly Sat 09-Jul-11 14:08:19

I have seen only two dead people,my best friend's mother sad and a neighbour who I found dead in his home. I echo other posters in that both times it was clearly just a "body" and not the person any more.My best friend was very very distressed at seeing her mum,and with hindsight probably shouldn't have gone. I don't think its comforting tbh, i also found seeing my friend's Mum pretty upsetting,but partly as my friend was so terribly distraught.Seeing my neighbour was fine,but I would probably not go and see a loved one now, as I don't think it would be helpful for me personally.
I'm sorry for your loss,but think it is brilliant that you had your Auntie until she was 100.

Lelex Sat 09-Jul-11 14:18:56

I'm sorry to hear about your losses, and experienced what you did. I've spoke to 2 friends who have lost loved ones, one of them is also best my friend, who's mum died back in 2007 to cancer. She said she went to see her. It has been mentioned that they look nothing like they did when they were alive, sometimes even look like waxworks according to some, but not sure on that bit. My decision might have been different if I was present when she died, because I don't think I'd want to go through with seeing her again. It's just eating away at me that I didn't get chance to go and see her again before she passed. She had a brilliant party for her 100th, unfortunately I couldn't attend that either. Day after that, she had a fall and broke her hip, was in hospital a couple of weeks with that and had it operated on. She was in hospital when she died last week, she'd been having problems with her bowel. I think she'd had enough personally, there is something the hospital could of done but she said she didn't want it doing and to just let nature take its course from then on. She said that in front of me, which in return I burst out crying. She was the sort that kept quiet if she was in pain etc, but she mentioned that she was in pain quite a lot. But I'm glad she passed peacefully in her sleep instead of keeling over in pain.

Continuum Sat 09-Jul-11 15:01:40

It's completely natural to feel guilty about not spending more time, or not going to this or that and it can be hard to get over that but it's also just life and it would be unhealthy to treat each time you see someone as if it might be the last.

With my dad, he picked us up from the airport after a trip to see my in-laws and he was already ill but had refused to go to the hospital because he "had" to pick us up. It was typically him, but you know, we're adults and would've managed! The next day I had an operation and got an infection which meant I wasn't as on the ball as I could be. I phoned him and he sounded worse and so got my mum to check on him (she'd moved out a few months earlier) but he was completely stubborn. Anyway, he did end up in hospital with pneumonia and I was feeling rubbish from my infection so I didn't even call, just sent him a smart arse text message about getting people to look after him. A few days later he took a turn for the worse, had to be resuscitated and was in ICU where he continued downwards. They told my mum and sis that they should just stop the meds and let him go as he was going anyway, but they refused till I could be there the next day to be with him. But I had loads of guilt, like I should've made more effort to make him go, that I shouldn't have canceled my operation earlier in the year so I would've been well and I probably would've called an ambulance for him whether he liked it or not, or I would've maybe called him more frequently. I guess a mix of I could've averted it (but who knows) and guilt that I didn't talk more and my last communication was an everyday silly comment by text.

After it all though I ended up reflecting on how easy it is to avoid dealing with death these days (if we're lucky and I consider I am given how few people close to me have died) and that's before the whole issue of the body coming up. No-one else around my age I know has seen a dead body and so it can be quite isolating as it's kind of taboo.

And then you wonder if you're boring people by keep talking about them!

Back when my Nana died none of us really spoke about it because we would cry and didn't want to upset each other. But that can be quite isolating and I would say don't be afraid to talk and cry to your family if they're the kind of family you can do that with. Thankfully with my dad I'd started going to church and so I had my vicar to talk to and obviously he'd had plenty of experience with death and the bereaved. I admit tho, it was good to cry to someone who wouldn't then in turn start off crying!

sharbie Sat 09-Jul-11 15:07:27

my grandad died very suddenly years ago when i was at work.
i hadn't seen him for a week or so- my mum and baby ds were there and a few of the family were able to come round straight after.
for some reason my mum didn't tell me until after i came home from work later in the evening.i felt awful that i couldn't be there so i did visit him in the chapel of rest just so i could say goodbye.he looked the same to me and i had a nice few words which i felt helped me a lot at the time.

Lelex Sun 10-Jul-11 13:44:47

I am sorry for writing back late, but I am glad that people have posted back sharing their experiences.
'Continuum', I am in the same boat as you. I have never lost anyone close to me. My aunty being the first. Your story about your Dad, is truly sad. I take it your Dad was the sort that didn't like to be fussed over when it come to being ill? My aunty was the same! I don't speak much about my Aunty passing as I don't want to upset my Mum or my Grandad. My sister is kind of understand, but she has 2 young children so I would rather not put the pressure on her of bringing it up. My partner is useless, so I don't say anything to him about it because I will just get the reply of "I see" or "Oh, okay". My sister said it's just the way men work. But surely they won't be having the same attitude when they lose someone who is close to them?! I'm not sure.
'Sharbie', I'm sorry to hear about your Grandad. Your mum probably didn't tell you until after you'd done work because she didn't want you to be upset while at work. I don't know. I had to leave work last monday as I got upset and I didn't attend college the day after either (I'm on an apprenticeship). My manager has been very understanding with me, which I am grateful for. I want to visit the chapel of rest for the very same reason, to say my last goodbye. I am actually kind of dreading the visit, as I have never experienced something like it before, but I want to do it.

sharbie Sun 10-Jul-11 15:18:10

hope it goes well for you xx

ruler84 Sun 10-Jul-11 21:54:19

Sorry for yuor loss. I lost my favourite aunty who was in her nineties just over a year ago. Tbh it never occured to me to go and see her. However, I did go and see my mum when she died 4 months ago. I was the only one who did. I was unsure whether I wanted to but decided that people regret the things they don't do more than the things they do. At the time it was awful. However, on balance I am glad I went.

Lelex Tue 12-Jul-11 11:56:35

Thank you everyone. All your responses have helped me out a lot. I am going to the chapel of rest today, and i'm feeling really nervous. I keep thinking should I go? Should I not go? But I really want to do it. I've decided not to write a letter, I'll just say everything whats on my mind out aloud to her. I know she'll be there listening to me, probably calling me a silly moo for getting so upset over all this. She didn't like a lot of fuss. Also the funeral tomorrow, I think that's gonna be the hardest part. Saying the actual final goodbye and that will be it, I will never see her again.

piprabbit Tue 12-Jul-11 12:02:15

Good luck, I hope it goes well and you find it a positive experience.

I insisted on going to say goodbye to my sister after she died. I was 5yo and she was 3yo. My parents weren't sure, but I was very definite. I have never regretted the decision.

Lelex Tue 12-Jul-11 21:58:37

I did it. It wasn't easy but i did it. I cried, lots. I wanted to have a moment with her on my own, but all I did was sob. She still looked like my great great aunty a little bit still. But like many people have said, their body is just a shell. And it was. She had her purple suit on which she wore for her 100th birthday party. She always used to use rollers to curl her hair. But when I saw her today, it was just brushed back. She'll be going crazy up there hehe. I took he lamb teddy, which we got her, but got it given it because she couldn't take everything from her flat into the residential home. It belongs with her. I also took a photo of mx and my older sister when we was younger and I wrote on the back of it, "To Aunty, you will always be in our hearts, R.I.P, love you always x x x".

Lelex Tue 12-Jul-11 22:00:57

I meant to say a photo of me and my older sister!
I Just thought I'd say that I am glad I went today and I don't regret it one bit.

piprabbit Tue 12-Jul-11 22:10:04

Well done Lelex - you should feel proud of yourself for facing such a difficult situation and finding a way to cope.

I hope the funeral goes smoothly tomorrow.

Continuum Thu 14-Jul-11 11:12:54

I had to go on a trip but I've been thinking about you. Glad it went well.

Yes my dad was the kind who didn't like to make a fuss, I still get all grrr and want to go look where that got you!!

It's normal to fear upsetting people by bringing it up, but sometimes it can be very lonely not bringing it up and everyone dealing with their grief in isolation, sometimes it's just good to cry and hug. As for your partner, if he's never lost anyone then it can be hard to comprehend what to do or say. I know now I've been through it I would be much better at handling other people's grief. My dh would comment he had no clue what I was going through, but would hold me when I cried and took over practical day to day stuff which was incredibly helpful.

Lelex Fri 15-Jul-11 16:39:23

The funeral went smoothly on Wednesday. Lots of tears though. Very emotional and heartbreaking. My Mum couldn't take no more towards the end and ended up flying into my Grandads arms crying her eyes out. I still can't believe she's gone though. But I guess the funeral opened my eyes. It was weird at the Chapel of Rest, seeing her lay there. Like she was sleeping. I was hoping she'd wake up like it was a dream but no. My other half come to mine for when I returned and my face was as red as a lobster. First thing he did was open his arms for a cuddle, I was very suprised. He didn't come to the funeral, I didn't want him to really. He never met her plus with him not really supporting me, I felt like he shouldn't attend. No, my other half has never lost anyone. If his attitude will change when the time comes, I have no idea.

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