The Burial at Oakland Cemetery

In America, people usually have the funeral services within a week of their loved one passing. In England there is a much longer gap between the two events. I don’t know why, so if anyone can enlighten me, I would be very interested. In America, there is a regular embalming process.

Lohr passed away on a Monday night in March 2010 and we held the funeral services and the burial on the Friday. (See ‘What He Left Behind’ for further details). That week was a very busy time; so busy that one didn’t have time to think too much and to grieve.

Tuesday morning, we were woken up early with a telephone call. The caller was asking if we would be willing to donate Lohr’s organs. This call deeply distressed my husband. If the organs were going to be donated, we had to be asked as soon as possible, but with Lohr’s death being such a shock, the call made my husband extremely angry. He had been up most of the night sobbing until he fell asleep exhausted. Then was woken up early by this call.

We spent the first few days finding a plot to bury Lohr. My husband’s father was buried in Oakland Cemetery and he wanted his son to be buried near his dad. We were able to find a plot about eight yards away from his dad underneath a beautiful tree. Oakland Cemetery is the resting place of over 50,000 people of all walks of life and is historically significant in Minnesota.

I drove my husband to the cemetery on the Wednesday after his son died. My husband was in great emotional pain and distress. On the way, I felt Lohr’s presence very near. He was very concerned that his mother and father were in so much pain. I felt him whisper ‘Tell my dad that I love him’. I hesitated to tell my husband. I’m sure he would think I was nuts. But the feeling persisted. I let my husband know, but on recalling these events to him a couple of months ago, he did not absorbed the information at the time.

We spent a lot of time at the mortuary. Sonny went to visit Lohr as often as he could that week before he was buried. The morticians did a great job of getting Lohr ready. He wore a white shirt and the white trousers that I had hemmed. The mortician had closed the eye that had been slightly open. He looked very peaceful. It seemed surreal that he had died.

Each evening we came home to find food on our doorstep. One day we found this tiny vase with a single pink carnation in it. That meant so very much to me. I still have the vase and it fills me with great love every time I see it.

My son, who lived at home then, looked after himself for the days that we were busy. He got himself off to school and got his homework done. He didn’t have to cook as our church family had provided food everyday in abundance. He, at least, was eating it and my husband was eating a little. My daughter and grandson flew in from Connecticut for the funeral.

All too soon, the day of the funeral arrived. Funerals to me are the hardest part of the whole grieving process because it is so public and I am a very private person especially with regards to my emotions.

We had the funeral services at the funeral home. We had two rooms. We used one room for the viewing and we used the other room for the service. Initially it was going to be a closed casket service, but Sonny and Annette changed their minds on that decision during the week.

My husband was speaking at his son’s funeral as well as Annette, Lohr’s mother. I was holding up well, supporting them, taking care of all the communications with everyone including the morticians, and the little details. I did okay until the movie with the music was put on.

Some kind friend of Annette’s had produced a short movie of about four minutes or so. The movie showed photos of Lohr growing up and a two or three short videos of him.

When Lohr was little, my husband would sing John Lennon’s song, ‘Beautiful Boy’, to him when he went to sleep. The movie played John Lennon’s recording of this song throughout it’s duration.

The movie was put on in the viewing room on a repeat cycle. I was pleased that it was put on later in the proceedings because I started to loose it a bit at that point. Music does that to me.

We had a lot of guests come to the funeral. A few of Annette’s family came and most of Sonny’s family were there. Sonny’s work colleagues came from St. Paul. I was working in downtown Minneapolis at the time and was surprised when my team turned up. A lot of Lohr’s friends came to say goodbye.

When the music went on, I had to leave being the hostess to our guests and walk out to compose myself in the foyer.

My husband did really well when he spoke at Lohr’s funeral. Annette had a harder time but she got through it. It was an honourable service. As soon as Annette had finished her talk, she left with her therapist. She was very distraught.

As the service concluded, my husband said goodbye to the mourners. The morticians closed the casket and the took Lohr out to the car. We travelled from Plymouth to Oakland Cemetery, in St.Paul.  It was March and we were in Minnesota. The snow was deep on the ground. I had changed out of my dress shoes and into my boots. When we got to the cemetery, they had cleared the frozen snow from around the grave and the grounds leading up to the grave.

This for me was the most harrowing part of the proceedings. Watching my husband carrying the coffin of his son from the hearse to the graveside. My husband’s friend walked me to the graveside and stood with me whilst Sonny escorted his son. The tears began to race down my face (just as they are doing now as I write this). My tissue did nothing to stem them. My heart ached so much for my husband and for all that was happening at that moment.

My husband is the most gutsy man that I know. As a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, he dedicated his son’s grave after some short words from the Bishop. Then the mourners left. My husband took a few minutes and then we went back to the car to attend a small meal put on by the ladies at the church for our immediate family.

As I drove away, I saw them lowering the coffin into the ground in the rear mirror. It was all I could do to see through the haze of tears. My heart was fit to burst.

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