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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

 Phil passed away on Sunday,Oct.27th,2013. My neighbor next door was at the house as soon as the paramedics showed up. My youngest brother, my sister in law and most of my neighbors were at the house at some point during that day. Church members and neighbors brought food to the house . My oldest brother and his wife came in from North Carolina that same day. Nieces and nephews are here. My daughter is here within 3 hours of my call and our son, daughter in law and granddaughters came in from Louisiana that night. My sister and her sons come in from Texas. I am surrounded with family and friends yet feel all alone.

The timeline still seems a bit fuzzy to me. Most of the time I was just going on automatic. I'm thinking I need to make funeral arrangements at the same time I'm thinking where am I going to put all these people coming in for the funeral.

Fortunately  we had spoken candidly with each other early in his illness about what we wanted at the end. We had both decided we preferred cremation to burial. We would have a memorial service only. We did not talk about music, songs, service details. I wish we had talked about that, too.

Day 2

I and my family made the arrangements Monday morning. I asked if I could see him before they got him ready. I was shocked when the director told me it wasn't a good idea because he had not been cleaned up yet. I was appalled because I remembered that scene too well in my mind. I can't believe that they let him lay like that for a day and a half. I wish I had cleaned his face before the coroner took him away.

I picked out a beautiful wooden box with a stained glass window on top. It matched the wooden flooring he put in our living and dining room last summer. I think he would have liked it.

My brother in law (his brother) came to the meeting thinking for some reason we were doing the actual service that day. He was unaware that his brother had chosen cremation as his final route and later admitted it kind of creeped him out.

My daughter and son asked our old friend to play the piano for us. We had a couple of CD songs picked out I wanted played .  Our pastors wife would sing for us and our pastor would do the service.

Went home with the family while they put together a memorial video slide show to be played during the viewing.

Day 3

We had a viewing that afternoon into the evening. We arrived early to spend a little time with each other and so we could just see him and talk to him one last time. Our 12 year old granddaughter just sobbed her heart out. The 15 year old teared up, too.

Friends from high school, work places, and church came in and a lot of my relatives. His brother came in for a little while with his wife. His sister did not make it to the viewing. Her husband had surgery and needed her.   My best friends from high school came in and my bestest Melinda came from about a 90 minute drive. I convinced her to stay the night with me because I really wanted her too and I really didn't like the idea of her driving all that way back then coming back the next morning for the service.

There is so much food at the house. It's the southern way.

Day 4

We have to get up early to get ready. We had set the time of the service for 11AM. I wanted to get there early so that each of us could have some alone time. I encouraged each of our children to do this. My daughter just about broke my heart listening to her cry through the closed door. I cautioned her to please hold it together at the service because I did not want to handle her grief as well as my own. She held strong for me.

I was just so moved that my entire office came for the service. Both doctors, the physician assistant and nurse practitioner , the admin and the entire front and back office staff. I could not believe that my doctor closed the entire office to attend my husbands funeral.

My family almost filled one side of the chapel. The other side is filled with high school friends, neighbors and work place employees.

The service went very well. I am so pleased with how everything came together. I drove home with my 12 year old granddaughter in the car with me. On the way home from the service the smell of my husbands aftershave filled the car. There was nothing in the car that would have smelled like that. Zoe and I both think it was his way of letting us know that he was okay.

But I am still a widow.

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