Today, I buried my beloved grandmother. She passed away Sunday night, without suffering, surrounded by family.
Don't know what to say, yet I feel like I should type something...
This is the first time in my life that I've seen a person die in front of me. It was not dramatic. As a matter of fact, it was surreal in a way. She really did not look very different alive and dead.
From that point on, life took on a very assembly line feel. Thank G-d for my wife; she is so organized and pulled together. She was able to get the funeral homes on the phone, and get pricing, details, help us make a decision and arrange everything. Unfortunately, with her mother passing away three years ago, she had practice.
Death is a business, you quickly find out under these circumstances. In some way it cheapens the event, or maybe takes advantage of the loved ones. How much to spend on a burial, how much on the plot... How can you make these decisions for someone whom you loved so much.
It is hard being observant, and the rest of the family not. I lobbied for an Orthodox funeral. It is more expensive in some ways, because of the shomer, and the premium price to make sure that the burial is in the 'restricted' Jews-only section of the cemetery. Also, a lot of what ex-Soviet Jews do is very different from traditional Jewish customs, and so at every point in the process, I was on the phone with my rabbi asking if it was halachically OK, etc.. I didn't want to impose what I thought was the right thing to do on the rest of my family, but I think my grandmother would have thought these things to be important. Overall, I think that it went very well, and nobody felt like "the Orthodox" took over the funeral.
Actually, in a way the Orthodox did take over the funeral. Men from the shul came to the ceremony to make sure that we had a minyan. Men that frankly I don't know very closely. Men that are busy businessmen who took time out of their day to perform the mitzvah of kavod ha-mes
My body aches from all the dirt I shoveled. Then the shiva at my house. But I hope that with everything I did in the last few days, I conveyed my love, admiration, and respect for my beautiful babushka Sofa