Dear Mom,

How did you learn that my friend died in the early years of elementary school? Did her Mom call you? When you realized her funeral was the same day as school picture day, did you instantly know you would let me choose which to attend?

I try to think of this situation now as a mom. I’m not sure I would instinctively ask my daughter if she wished to attend picture day or her best friend’s funeral. I probably would have thought a funeral was too much for her. Except that I experienced the careful, thoughtful, and beautiful way you handled this with me and can lean on it to guide decisions I make as a mom.

Every step of the process you let me choose. I chose to attend the funeral. I remember sitting in school dressed up, but for a different reason. You picked me up and we drove to the funeral home. You asked if I wanted to see her in the casket. I didn’t. I still don’t.

You asked where I would like to sit, and I chose the very back corner of the room. I don’t remember crying, just sort of absorbing and observing everything happening around me. But I didn’t feel scared. I never felt scared when you were near. Does my daughter feel this way near me?

When you died, Mom, no one asked me where I wanted to sit at the funeral. As adults we don’t get that luxury, do we. I sat in the front row. I didn’t want to but knew I had to. That back corner would have suited me just fine. To sit, absorb and observe what was happening around me. Instead, I had to sit up front where I could not hide my sobbing. I do not like public displays of emotion, and there I was on full display with mine.

What I wanted was to be back in elementary school at my friend’s funeral, simply observing in the safety and comfort of your presence. Is that wrong?

I love you,


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