A few weeks ago I attended a dinner party with a bunch of women to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday. Over the course of the meal we talked about a million and one things. Kids, spouses, camp, work, school, jewelry, current events, health and wellness, and food and fashion just to name a few. Oddly, a simple conversation that started over admiring a blouse someone was wearing suddenly parlayed into a more serious dialogue about owning (of all things) a funeral dress.
I Own A Funeral Dress. Do You?
I bought my funeral dress about nine years ago. At the time, my intention for buying the dress was not for a funeral which puzzles me because when I look at the dress now, I have no idea what drew me to it in the first place. The dress is so depressing it actually screams funeral attire. For an unpolished gal, it’s the most conservative article of clothing I own, which again amazes me that I even bought it in the first place.
Obviously, the dress is black. It’s not too short and it’s not too tight. My shoulders are covered and the neckline does not allow for even the slightest bit of cleavage. Not only is it understated, but it doesn’t make a statement at all. It just blends in with the other mourner’s outfits sitting in the pews of darkness. Hence, it’s the perfect dress to wear to a funeral.
Sadly, I’ve gotten more wear out of my funeral dress than any of the other LBD’s hanging in my closet. Lately it seems I’m either dropping it off to be dry cleaned or I’m pulling off the plastic wrap because I have to wear it again.
Often, when I’m trying to get dressed and I have a fight with myself as I ransack my entire closet in an attempt to find something that looks halfway decent to wear, I stumble upon my funeral dress and take pause. In that moment the dress serves as a brutal wake up call that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff (even if not fitting into my small jeans is what I’m sweating about!) My funeral dress serves as a reminder that life is way too short and unless my problem(s) are really big, I gotta try to let it go. (Admit it, you just started singing the chorus to Let It Go in your head, didn’t you?) I bet you’re still singing it, huh? “Let it go… Let it go…Can’t hold me back anymore…. Let it go…. Let it go…. Turn away and slam the door…. I don’t care what they’re gonna say………………….”
I wish my funeral dress was one of the umpteen other items hidden in the back of my closet, unworn for ages and collecting dust. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Today, I sent my funeral dress back to the dry cleaners because earlier this week I had to wear it once again. I sat alone, close to the back of the Memorial Chapel and quietly blended in with the black sea of sadness. Over the years the fabric of my dress has absorbed the tears I’ve shed for those lost when I didn’t have a tissue handy. This time, my dress soaked up the stream of salt water that fell from my welled up eyes and down past my chin as I listened to my girlfriend so beautifully eulogize her Mother who was taken from this earth much too soon.
I wish I could say I’ll never have to wear my funeral dress again. I wish I could throw it out or misplace it or put it in the giveaway pile and donate it to charity. The reality is that I can’t because sooner or later I know I’ll have to wear it again. It’s an inevitable fact. I’m just hoping it’s later rather than sooner.
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW…. As unpolished as I may be, I’d have to be one sick bitch to try to find something funny about funerals. As childish as it sounds, death scares the shit out of me. In my opinion, there is no more sensitive a topic. My emotions just thinking about it become heightened and turn me into an unpolished, bawling, hot mess of grief.
Though this blog was inspired by the amazing women I had the pleasure of dining with a few weeks ago, I’m dedicating this entry to all of my unpolished friends who have lost a loved one. Trust me when I say my heart aches for the losses you’ve suffered and I’m so very sorry for your pain. At the funeral I attended this week, the Rabbi read a poem by Martha White titled, How Long Will The Pain Last? Much like my dress, the poem was so simple but so perfect given the circumstances. I’d like to share an excerpt of it with you in hopes that it may provide some comfort.
“………………..How long will the pain last? All the rest of your life. But the thing to remember is that not only the pain will last, but the blessed memories as well. Tears are proof of life. The more love, the more tears. If this be true, then how could we ever ask that the pain cease altogether. For then the memory of love would go with it. The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.”
If you would like to read the poem in it’s entirety, please click here.