The Scandalous Choice

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.

The girls and I made a choice that some people don’t understand. To some, it seems a bit scandalous. Even to myself, it seems strange. A very different choice than ever before.

Attract Him Back


I  had  already  made  my  decision  when  the  girls climbed into the car and we headed toward Georgia for my dad’s funeral. So had the girls. We almost spoke of it at once.

I chose not to see Daddy in his casket.

One of my earliest memories is being three years old and held up  high  to see  the  pretty  lady  in the  casket, Lucinda Harrell Johnson, my  great-grandmother.  It was the first of many such memories.

Growing up in a small town meant we attended  almost every  funeral,  including  the  visits  to  the  family’s home, to the visitation at the funeral home, and finally to the funeral itself. I’d been to at least 500 funerals by the time I hit  puberty.  And  people  wonder  why  I have  a Goth bent!

It’s funny how some people feel the need to entertain themselves by watching the closest mourners. It’s ghoulish. Thank  Gods, it’s not the norm, but there are a few people who really seem to get off on it.

When  Granddaddy  died  over  a  decade  ago,  three women stationed themselves at the foot of his casket for the best view of the mourner’s  face as each approached the  casket  at the  visitation  service.  They  stopped  their gossip to gawk. Especially when it came to  close family members.  They  refused  to  allow  the  private  moment. They made themselves part of it.

People like  that  feed on other  people’s  grief.  They crave it, and if they don’t get it in the form they want, then there’s the gossip of whether a beloved acted as devastated as necessary.

This time, it wasn’t about refusing to give them satisfaction. It wasn’t about them. It was about how I (and the girls, in their own wishes)  wanted to remember  Daddy. And it wasn’t in a box.

When my friend Joe, years ago, told me he had colon cancer and only two months to live, I didn’t visit him. I talked  to him on the  phone  instead. He understood.  I didn’t want to see what the cancer did to him, and at his funeral, the casket was closed, though I didn’t know it before and I would have been willing. My memories of him are  vivid  and  living—sitting  behind  his  desk  with bright blue eyes and a smile. I like very much that I have that memory instead of the one our mutual  friends talk about.

Life Coaching Tips

I did get some pressure about what I “needed to do.” Well-meaning and gentle as well. Concerned that I might regret my decision, but for me,  once the image is introduced,  it’s  too  late  to  decide  that  that’s  not  what  I wanted.  So I gave  it a lot  of  thought,  I knew  what  I wanted, what was right for me, and I said, no, I choose not to.

I don’t need to see a physical body to have closure.

I don’t need to see him that way or remember him that way. I may not have that choice with every funeral in my future, but this one, I did, and this is what I wanted.

And what I honored in myself. And in him.

And if  that’s  a  scandalous  choice,  then  shame  on whoever thinks so for feeling robbed of their moment of entertainment.


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