There has been a request also for me to post this, an email I sent out to friends after we returned from the funeral. I just learned a whole lot of things about responding to the grief of others: things that I was glad that people had done and things that I really wished that people had done that they didn't. We don't deal with this often, as we're so young. I know what it is like to not know what to do for someone too. People are still calling too. People I don't talk to on a regular basis under normal circumstances have continued to invite us over or out somewhere, call, or send nice emails, just to see how I'm doing. It means an awful lot to me.
Anyhow, here's the email:
I wanted to say thanks so very much to those of you who were so thoughtful during this hard time. Several people sent beautiful flower arrangements to the funeral home which I really appreciated. Since I hadn't really lived in NH for any extended period of time, I didn't have many friends in the area, so only a few local friends were able to make it. It made me feel far less alone when I walked around and looked at all the cards from the flowers. I know others were trying to get out to NH to be with us, and I appreciate that as well. I know its hard to make travel arrangements at the absolute last minute!
Thanks also for the many supportive emails and phone calls and cards I recieved. Even if I did not get back to you (I'm going to try to over the next few days!), I got all of your messages and it really meant a lot to me that you were thinking of me and my family.
I just wanted to give an update and some thanks to everyone after everything that happened last week. We returned from NH on Saturday night. It was nice to be back with my family for the week. The wake was on Monday night and it was as nice as a wake can be. Many of my brothers' friends and my parents friends attended, as well as a few of mine. After the wake was over, my brother Jim and I attempted to leave a beer in the casket with Ed (we had actually left several things, but this one we tried to sneak in at the end). He was trying to hide it a little bit and so tried to put it next to Ed's leg. The loud 'clunk' that followed scared everyone to death - apparently the legs part of the casket isn't padded like the part you see. The beer had just clunked down to the bottom. It was a classic Ed and Jim moment. Luckily the funeral home people were there to save the day.
The funeral was also nice. Jim and I both did a reading, as did my Uncle Bart (who is Jim and Ed's godfather). Jim and my dad both said a little bit about Ed as well. He was buried in the nice old cemetery of Windham. There are two cemeteries (that I know of anyway), one of which is newer. This one is really small, on a hill surrounded by old stone walls. There are a lot of very old graves in here, from the 1700 and 1800s.
We're all so young that we've probably not had to go through anything like this before with our friends. I know that it is difficult to know what to do or what to say. I thought I would pass on a few things I've learned from this whole experience.
The most important thing is: don't ignore it. I know that its difficult to know what to say to someone who has just lost someone close to them. As my father said in the funeral, 'What you say is immaterial, its the fact that you were there that is important'. Or something like that. Its worse when you don't say anything. Don't be afraid to call or send an email. Send a card. If you're able to, come over. Don't wait to be asked. Before I left for NH, two friends here stopped by, even though I totally tried to talk them out of it because I didn't want to be a bother. I'm glad they ignored me. Bring over some food - just don't everybody bring lasagna! I swear, I may not be able to eat vegetable lasagna for a while. Send flowers to the funeral home, even if you think you're not supposed to - 'in lieu of flowers' seems like we don't want any flowers at all. I don't know why they put it that way, but thats not what it means.
Anyhow. Thanks again for thinking of me and my family.
Someone has made a website in memory of my brother:
if you're interested in that.