"When" Writing - Loved One's Funeral

A more sombre topic today, and a prompt that will no doubt provoke a rich sensory experience in your mind. See if you can describe the imagery, the grief or perhaps even the beauty of a “loved one’s funeral”. Write for 10 minutes and stay as close to the seven senses as you can.

The collective ambient heat of crowded pews does nothing to relieve the cold arising from self-blame and annoyance, maybe even arrogance. Sympathies and condolences, thoughts and prayers, whispered on wasted breath, piling up like the unnecessary and unwanted food hoarding my countertop, keeping my refrigerator from maintaining a seal. When I get home, the smell of ruined food will be a reminder of the corpse and urn in front of the church. Disco-ball dots of dappled lights sit still surrounding the overpriced cedar box and pewter vase, yearning to be released back into the wild through the stained-glass passage that trapped them here. An ancient hymn floods the chapel, piano crescendo-ing in an effort to drown out the sobs and heaves from strangers. My fingers begin to go numb as a stone makes its place in my throat – the mahogany pulpit beckons me forward. As the son and sole heir, I have to speak. An elegy for one, a eulogy for the other, only one will be heartfelt. No tears, no smile, nothing but an empty vessel shuffling papers. I look at the ash and feel his presence on wings looking down, encouraging. I look at the box, and feel her laughing at my nervousness and burning, trying her best to grow the literal horns she ostentatiously honed while here. Torn between the firmament and flames, left here, I sense his freedom and share his current lonesomeness. I clear my throat and a blob of spittle smears the ink on the page in front of me, unreadable. Last night’s work wasted, I was never meant for extemporaneous speech.

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My tears flow, like a waterfall pushing the river of the after towards the cosmic beach far off in the heavens, where my son will finally feel the breeze as he once felt his mothers soft kiss on his cheeks. The sails to float his eternal canoe as empty as my heart need the breeze of praise for what was to fill the sails. My heart begins the rhythm that will carry the wind to the sails like I will carry my son to rest. Floating down the river of grief I must walk the banks, under foot there is nothing, though lush grass appears i feel that broken glass meets me with each step tentatively and painfully taken as I walk closer and closer to the shores of mother ocean to whom I entrust the care of the spirit of the child lost.

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I love this line

Really captures the grief the effected feels and the way others feel like they have to say something which most of the time is empty. And the way you capture the distain for unbearable and daunting task of talking at a funeral! I really like it!!

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That beginning sentence is heart-wrenching, well done. The tears being blended into the idea of Styx, being tied to flowing wind, leading to mother’s kisses. Powerful. Not sure if it is what you were going for, but the idea of the father being the pallbearer and being the son’s guide while marching to the beat of the heart is an amazing image. The nautical theme is strong throughout and all tied to the center. Great work.

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Thanks! yeah this topic hit close to home for me.

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I’m sorry to hear that this topic hits so close to home (really, not in the lip service way… ha). But the fact that you can take your experiences and turn them into beautiful words means that you have the ability to help so many people. Thank you for your participation and for showing how we can use language to portray such strong emotion.

There is some really beautiful stuff in here! I agree “whispered on wasted breath” is a real highlight, and also the way you have captured yourself, or at least the speaker, as an empty vessel, neither smiling nor crying. Beautiful!

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Goodness I suspected today might be a tearjerker. Absolutely beautifully written, with consistent and very powerful imagery - well done!

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Through reading a huge amount of books on grief and loss i think this is a good summary.

Grief is praising the thing you have lost

And praise is grieving the thing that you have and one day will lose

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Passing pedestrians peer over the wooden church gates in their morbid fascination. For me, the world is muted but for a tinnitus of nausea. Each compassionate offering of condolence is a thorn of acceptance, chilling the air in the shadow of lost companionship.

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The tinnitus of nausea is really nice concept! Concise and meaningful good job!

That rubbernecking image at the beginning is so realistic. And yeah, the so nauseated that your ears ring is really cool imagery. And hearing the “I’m sorry’s” making it all real. Great job.

I float like a ship with no captain, drifting between the crashing waves of pews. Symphonic haunting encircles the room like fog, burning and stinging my eyes. Shit, I’m crying it’s not the ghosts tumbling out from celestial pipes, strangling me with their shadowed hands, no it’s more like my black dress is made of shrinking lead and it will squeeze me until my soul pops out. I must have tripped and fallen because a bear trap has me by the neck and your face dangles from it, swinging back and forth with each wayward current. I clutch on to you for dear life, tearing my fingers on cold metal, lost in a tide that pulls me on and on down the aisles. I see a lifeboat up ahead but it smells of death, shiny and wooden and smooth, yet its only passenger is a phantom of you.

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Really nice imagery here maddie!

I really like this line in particular

I love your description of a locket with a picture or some remnant of the loved one. I take it as a widow who is already afraid of being lonely (maybe a tight dress to attract a suitor) while at the same time knowing that her true love is gone and she’ll never have that feeling again. Don’t know if that’s what you were going for, but I love the narrative that came to mind. Wonderful job.

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I really like how you have mapped this metaphor onto the setting - it gives me a feeling of sea-sickness that really captures how one feels at a loved one’s funeral.

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I can feel my heart trying to beat out of my chest. I place my palm firmly on my heart. “Please Stop,” I tell myself. My body feels out of control and completely dis-regulated. I feel wet but chilly, out of breath and lightheaded. An uninvited hand touches my shoulder. “Please stop” this time a discreet whisper. I try to escape the scent of lilies by walking across the room. No use. I close my eyes and visualize a soothing beach, with the sound of the waves crashing and birds chirping. I can feel my heart slowing. Someone brushes against me, forcing me out of escape… “I’m sorry for your loss.” Their breath smells like old meat, and their eyes look dull and pitying. I hold my breath and force a nod, while pressing my lips together tightly so I don’t scream.

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It’s good but abit tell-y. I think this quote might help “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” for instance why do you feel wet? are the clouds grieving above you? or chilly? does the cold air slap you in the face leaving your cheeks red? or out of breath or lightheaded? because your lungs are spent from expelling empty thank you’s to people.
You’re on the right track but I feel like you can dig down a little deeper!

Sorry if thats a bit much! Just keep at it, keep exploring and most importantly keep writing!

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I feel damp from the sweat, because my body is dysregulated. My nervous system is freaking out, and I’m on the verge of a panic attack. This one was a little more difficult for me. I wanted to show what it felt like in my body. I’m struggling to grasp show vs tell, and sensory vs descriptive…I’m going to keep at it! Thanks for the feedback and encouragement!

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