Good Grief! Why I Bought a Funeral Dress During the Pandemic

Another Slicer’s recent post on funerals sparked this memory. Thanks for the inspiration, Glenda!

Weird fact…my sister and I bought funeral dresses during the pandemic. It wasn’t because I was scared of dying per say; rather, I felt like the pandemic taught me how to live. For the first time in my life, I felt raw and real and comfortable with the choices I’ve made and the person I’d become.

This particular big sister has always been my biggest advocate and my worst critic. We are opposites true and true. She’s blonde-I’m brunette. She calls herself spontaneous which means I get to be “up tight.” She gave up her career for children while I have been juggling teaching and motherhood. She’s a city girl, and I’m living the rural highlife. There’s a pull and push on the heartstrings when we’re together.

But, the events we shared on a February weekend in 1998, will secure our bond in sisterhood and friendship for a lifetime.

Back in our early twenties, we were tasked to care for our sweet, Grandma Carolyn while in hospice; her body was shutting down after a fight with lung cancer. We traveled eight hours to Chicago for our 48-hour shift together. We had no clue what to expect or how this experience would change us forever.

We had never witnessed death so closely as we watched our beloved “mother of our mother” go through every stage as death pulled her away from us. It didn’t take us long to learn we shared the same love for this woman. We’d do anything for her. We spent hours reflecting: on our childhood, our parents’ parenting, our siblings and who we all became on the other side of this and other family traumas. We laughed happy and sad tears together.

Fast forward two decades later, and we are still complete opposites, but we have learned to embrace our mutual attraction towards the other. The irony of the funeral dress purchase was we wanted to be prepared in the event of an unexpected death; we wanted some control during an uncontrollable time. So, we spent hours shopping and personalizing each dress to compliment our personality and body type. We didn’t realize in preparing for one thing, we were creating something.

Good grief-as if the dress will make death easier! Yet, each time I see the dress hanging in my closet, unused and collecting dust, I’m reminded of how death and loss can bring us closer to the ones we love.

4 responses to “Good Grief! Why I Bought a Funeral Dress During the Pandemic”

  1. I love how your story unfolds. I genuinely couldn’t stop reading until the end. You came full circle and threw in some interesting relationship parts too. I love your last sentence the most and it is so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying so. I have had this story in my head for a few years and was glad to get it out!


  2. My sister likes to say that she and I are burritos and lasagna–on the surface, very different, but made of the same essential ingredients. It was fun to read about your relationship with your sister and also your relationship with life and with death. This line in particular stood out to me: “For the first time in my life, I felt raw and real and comfortable with the choices I’ve made and the person I’d become.” What a powerful statement to be able to make!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The fact you shared your burrito/lasagna metaphor with me makes my heart jump. I love sister dynamics; so surreal-so special! I can’t wait to share it with my burrito! Thank you!


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