4 May 2015, Monday – The Funeral Home

Meanwhile the French authorities have no longer sealed off the crash site but we are not allowed to visit as it´s still inaccessible. Only the rescue workers have access in order to remove the environmental damage.
But I would like to set foot directly on the place where my child last saw the light of day, before the eternal darkness enveloped him with its merciless cold and endless silence. I know where he was sitting on the plane, which is why I have the desire to see the rock face he saw in the very last seconds of his life. I have to see it with my own eyes, every angle and indentation. Only … will that help me better comprehend the horror? I´m starting to get the idea that I never will.
Grief and pain threaten to overwhelm me so on the advice of someone I know who is also suffering I bought a book on coping with bereavement. Unfortunately it´s a mishmash of odd opinions from the Asian region meant to offer help. Perplexed, I put it aside. It would have been smarter to have done some research before buying it but I couldn´t in my blocked state.
In order to combat our constant exhaustion we take brewers yeast tablets regularly, which contain essential B-complex vitamins among others. Although we don´t notice any positive effect on our nerves we continue to take them dutifully. You never know. I strongly refuse to take psychotropic medications for good reason.
Lufthansa/Germanwings inform us that the French Civil Aviation Safety Agency (BEA) will publish a preliminary report on the Germanwings disaster in the next few days. The families will be notified by email (ours will be in German) before the official announcement. We can expect the final report in about a year. Will we learn anything new?
Today we have a difficult task ahead of us. We have to go to the funeral home. According to the French prosecutor we can hope that the victims´ remains will soon be transferred to the families.
The funeral home we have chosen has 100 years of experience. Last year they organised my mother´s funeral and we were very satisfied with them.
Reluctantly we make our way over. I want to turn back at every corner like probably most people do when they go to a funeral home to arrange a funeral for a beloved relative or friend. And then for your own child? That is just absolutely not on!!! I must be having a terrible nightmare! Jens in an urn? Cremated? As if in a trance I go in. I recognise the funeral director who organised my mother´s funeral. She must know the details. She must know that only parts of our son will come back in the casket transported from Marseille.
“The terrible crash in France? The, the Germanwings flight? That happened in March?“ she stammers in a deep voice which has a calming effect on me. The information threw her off at first. “I don´t know what to say. That´s awful.“ The funeral director offers her condolences and lowers her gaze to collect herself. She regains control quickly, takes down the necessary information and explains the procedure. She can´t give us a date for the funeral until we have the death certificate. When we receive it we are to contact her immediately.
She says, “We have experience with the transportation of remains from other countries. No problem. But so far it´s always been people who pass away on holiday.“ She closes the document folder and adds, “This is the first time we´ve had a case like yours.“
We talk and I like her more and more, not only her voice but her practical outlook on life.
My fear of the funeral home fades a bit because of her casual manner. There have to be funeral directors and people will always die.
Finally we say goodbye. On the way to the car park I take a few deep breaths and say to my husband: “We survived!“

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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