Just last month I published a whole podcast episode about how I feel about funerals! (TL;DR: I think they are optional for me and whoever doesn’t want to go!)

This month I had the opportunity to serve a friend on the sad occasion of her son choosing to end his life via suicide.

Hi! I’m Bevin! I want to be a good influence on you. Typically I wouldn’t wear a hoodie over a dress at a memorial service but when in the PNW…

I have a lot of experience losing friends to their choices, and it’s not guaranteed there will even be services (I would say it’s been about one in three people getting services–suicide is very rupturous for those remaining earth side).

I’m glad there was a celebration of life for my friend’s son–his community, friends and family needed it.

I hadn’t ever met him but I got a ping from the Goddess to offer to do something I felt was pretty out of my depth–creating a kid’s area. I’m a fun aunt and everything and I was a top 10% camp counselor, but those skills are rusty and usually someone else is providing the supplies or toys.

I had the idea of balloons for the kids multiple times and didn’t get it together to grab them. And poof! Someone else had the idea flow to them! I think ideas sometimes float between folks.

I’ve never seen an explicit kid’s area at a memorial. Maybe I would like them more if they were more hospitable to all ages? When I asked my friend if there would be kids in attendance that was a resounding yes–the most important among them was the 9 year old daughter of the man we were celebrating.

Addiction is a disease of many losses. And I know if he could have stayed alive for his daughter he would have, it was clear how much he loved her based on all the stories that were told.

It can be so hard to know how to deal with death and kids in a society that is pathologically afraid of genuine feelings, especially the sad and hard feelings. But the basics are–let’s teach kids how to feel bravely so they can grow up and not have to reparent themselves like the rest of us have had to.

I had no idea what to do so I started with my crafty mom. She said “Roll out some butcher paper to give them space to draw or write their feelings.” She also generously gave me some of her butcher paper roll!

I already had markers and crayons in my shed I hardly use.

Yes, intentionally wrote it in present tense because the love outlives the earthly life, thus why we grieve.

I asked my friend Kendrra if she would donate coloring pages. They were SO perfect! The most popular coloring pages were the “I’ve been feeling low” volcano and the “You’ve always been strong.” I wish I had spread them out throughout the hall instead of keeping them in the kids area–grown-ups have inner children and coloring while connecting about a loved one around tables is nice.

More people chose to color on the butcher paper than the coloring pages, which was good because now my friend has this memory she can look at. I also told her grand daughter as I was packing it up that she could visit it any time she wanted to. I think kids like to know what’s going on because so much of what happens around them is out of their control.

Heck, when I’m going through the acute stages of grief I’m so batty and forgetful it’s nice to have folks explain patiently what’s happening and how I can connect to something when I’m ready.

You can hit up Kendrra or buy her coloring pages on Patreon!

I asked my friend Manduh who has lost many friends to their choice and has been to many funerals/memorials/celebrations of life what would be good in a kids area. She said fidget toys and stuffies for cuddling.

I love having intergenerational friendships and I’ve become friends with my friend’s mom who lives ten minutes away from me. Sheri has this stash of grandchild toys she pulls out for visits. I asked if I could borrow some that weren’t precious to her.

They were great to have as options! Kids like having stuff to look through. They weren’t loud toys. She had some stuffies and fidget toys in there!

Sheri gifted the leftovers of a glow stick box. I was surprised what a hit that was especially since it was kind of dark in the hall for the projector slide show, and then as things wound down and grown-ups were cleaning up the kids waiting around decided to make the longest glow necklace they could. The abundance of those glow necklaces!!

Never underestimate how much of a blessing you can be even with limited financial resources. All I really did was coordinate pick ups and printing, and show up to set-up and be at the memorial service and help clean up.

It’s all a good reminder of how much asking for help and community care can create magic. This service was really sweet.

My favorite grief thing is to get to know someone through their other loved ones. Since I never met my friend’s son I got to know him because I was there and that was nice!

And it sent home the reminder to me that it doesn’t matter how many people love the ever loving SHIT out of you and consider you a best friend. If you have your shame walls up and can’t feel the love, you won’t feel the love.

As someone who isolates when I’m sad and shame really builds those walls up, I know it. I have a daily self care habit to connect with three people a day. It can be a three to ten minute exchange. (The science is an 8 minute phone call.) But it makes my mental health feel more stable.

Shame is not a real emotion. It’s something that’s taught to us by society, religion, family systems, grown-ups, the carceral system etc… So when you’re feeling shame bust out your Feelings Wheel and consider what emotion is under that experience of shame.

I can’t find a Feelings Wheel that doesn’t have shameful on it but since this is my blog I am choosing to provide a resource that isn’t fully in alignment.

There are a lot of people in life who I wish I could shake gently by the shoulders and say “Feel that??? So much love beams at you all the time. Stay alive for this!”

Sigh. Heavy weekend. Someone said at the memorial that we should be doing these celebrations of life while folks are still alive to experience it. This is what I’m saying for me! I do not want a funeral! I want my flowers NOW please! (Go ahead and take a day off work if you need an excuse to when I become an ancestor, but let’s do the eulogizing while we’re still alive.)

Bring my flowers is a metaphor for please support my work or just buy me presents or send me a card or note!

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