11 Things I Learned From a Funeral: [30 DAYS OF WRITING: EPISODE 14/30]

My little cuz: it took a funeral to meet her. A gift from beyond the grave...?

My little cuz: it took a funeral to meet her. A gift from beyond the grave…?

This is day 14 of a New Year’s Resolution.

1. Some things really are forever.

2. It’s possible to be an agent of change without even being alive.

3. Jewish comfort food is actually comforting.

4. The most important conversations are one-on-one, but they might require a little extra effort: eg. sleeping on a couch in your clothes or sitting in a freezing-cold parked car.

5. There are three sides to every story, and most of them don’t really matter.

6. The biggest gift you can give is listening. The second biggest gift is just being there, silent.

11. Thinking about people you've lost makes you think about other people you've lost.  Uncle Bill: Circa 1960.

11. Thinking about people you’ve lost makes you think about other people you’ve lost.
Uncle Bill: Circa 1960.

7. Crying is cathartic and healing and should be done with great gusto.

8. Family has more to do with who you call “grandpa” than genes or marriage.

9. Real, live teenage cousins are even better than students.

10. Not even forever is forever.

Order Amidst Chaos: What Do You Wear For Your Brother’s/Uncle’s Funeral? [30 Days Of Writing: Episode 12/30]

Like father, like son.

Like father, like son.

This morning, I came downstairs dressed for my Uncle’s funeral.

I’d assembled a cozy sweater and blazer and a tie that my parents had given me some years back. It wasn’t the usual black suit, but as I’ve said, my Uncle wasn’t a black suit sort of guy.

That, and I knew it would be a long day. I dressed for comfort. Not comfortable, per say, but comforting.

My father was dressed, already, in a look brilliantly executed, as if from the pages of a classy Brooks Brothers catalog. Structured and calm and beautifully put together.

It was one of the longest days in human history. We both cried many times. But as our respective styles suggested, I was, indeed, comforted.


After the hardest part of the day: a cup of Joe.

And my father was classy and beautifully put together.

Grieving in the Age of the Selfie: NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION — 30 DAYS OF WRITING. EPISODE 7/30



This is day 6 of a New Year’s Resolution.

An hour ago, when I said goodbye to my Uncle, it was really goodbye.

He might make it through the night. Maybe. But there is no other conversation to be had when the patriarch of your family wishes you a good life and tells you to “take care, kid.”

This has been a year of loss. Close family friends have lost wives and mothers. My parents lost a close friend. But all of these were sudden and traumatic and tragic and the Facebook threads show shock and grief and deep discombobulation.

This is different. It’s just as sad, but my Uncle knows he’s about to die, and he wanted to say goodbye, and so I knew this was my last call. I got to say everything. Everything that matters, in the end.



I had my phone, my laptop, my sunset, my quiet office.

I was wearing a suit.

 What does a Style Blogger have to say about death?

Crying isn’t something I do very often, but when I do, it’s not a pretty sight. I cry every year on Yom HaZikaron, when I remember two friends killed in a terrorist attack at Hebrew University when we were all too young and too far from home to die.

I cried, witnessing my hopes and fears as a teacher acted out on stage by a brilliant theater-improv group.

I cried when my journal was stolen.



I cried after the last episode of Battlestar Galactica. 

All of these have one thing in common – unabashed, unashamed expressions of my true self, my deepest being. And in every case, while deeply vulnerable, I am also safe. I am held in the hands of my community, my friends, and the Lords of Kobol (or the One True God, depending on whether you’re a human or Cylon sympathizer).

flowerMany think that style is about artifice. It is not. It is about capturing what is inside you and wearing it on your sleeve, so to speak, in a way that others might see and understand who you are before you say a word, before you lift a finger.

Saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye.

In that sense, my suit – a tan suit with a blue, polka dot shirt, a cheerful red lapel flower, and a slightly mussed haircut — was the perfect thing to wear while saying goodbye to my Uncle.

He was composed. Like my suit. He was organized. Like my polka dots. And he was cheerful. Like my flower.

I was the one who sobbed like a teenager should but can’t.

I’m glad I wore this today, and I’m glad I had my laptop nearby.

I’m glad Uncle David was my Uncle, and I’ll be sad when he’s gone.

Deep inside.


I’m glad that I laughed and I made him laugh, I’m glad that I got to say goodbye.

And just as I felt for the crew of the Battlestar Galactica after their long and exciting and painful journey, I’m happy my Uncle is going home.