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Saturday, March 19, 2011

When shopping is not so fun

I love to shop. If that makes me a stereotypical female, so be it.

But I love wandering the aisle of Target, taking my time to linger over clearance endcaps and frog-themed bathroom accessories. I get a rush matching necklaces and earrings to springy outfits of capri pants and sweater sets. I can feel my blood zing through my veins when I walk through the mall carrying multiple paper bags, their string handles resting in my palms (though it's been a LONG time since I've actually been to the mall).

Having said all that, there was not a lot of joy in the shopping I did today. I was looking for clothes to wear to my mother-in-law's impending funeral. Shopping for a funeral when the person you love is still alive is depressing.

"Are you shopping for something special today?"

"No" is the easy answer.  "Just browsing" shakes off most sales people.

But by the third store, I was ready to be real. "Yes. I'm shopping for something to wear to my mother-in-law's funeral." It was instantly apparent that wasn't what this nice woman was expecting to hear.  She offered condolences and then left me to my search for something appropriate.

First was the matter of color. Is brown somber enough or does it have to be black? How about brown for the visitation and black for the actual funeral? Is a splash of bright pink appropriate? A funeral is a celebration of life, after all.

Then the issue of formality. Ok to wear pants? Maybe for the wake, but probably a dress for the funeral?

With Annie graduating from 8th grade this year, there will be several occasions -- May Crowning and the graduation Mass -- where nice clothes will be appropriate. Can I add some color to the black dress to make it seem festive at a later date?

Do I have shoes to go with this? Jewelry? Or do I need to buy those too?

Of course there is the fat factor. The fact that the clothes I was trying on were a size 18, when this time last year I was buying size 14s , was depressing all on its own. But does it matter if this outfit makes me look fat? It's not about me, right?

I tried to think of other teapot-shaped women I know -- short and stout -- who might have something I could borrow, but I came up empty. So at the end of the night, I walked out with one blouse I can wear with black pants and a jacket I already own, a brown earthy-toned outfit that I will probably keep to wear to work even if I decide it doesn't reflect enough grief for this occasion, and a black sheath dress with a wide belt that I'm not convinced is a good idea with a white shrug -- an outfit that just seems boring.

And paying for all that? You guessed it...depressing.


kimybeee said...

i would not feel compelled to wear black or brown. you could choose to wear something in your mother in laws favorite color. if her fave color is blue, then you and annie could wear something with blue as an accent or even a navy with lighter accessories. the boys and mike could pick up this theme by choosing blue ties or a blue dress shirt to brighten up a more somber color.

if she had a favorite flower you could probably find a scarf or hairpiece in that pattern. i would not want to see everyone in dark, depressing clothes if you want to celebrate her life and remember something special about her. make it more personal while at the same time being practical with all the other events you have coming up this spring/summer.

separates like skirts/slacks/blazers with a pretty top and some cute shoes and accessories would be a better investment of your money. and if you feel down about the size - then go to lane bryant and instead of an 18 you can buy a 2 lol!!

and i know what i am talking about because i have a wardrobe full of t-shirts (sometimes the same tee in different colors (target)) and four pair of jeans (lane bryant, size 4 (all the same) and too big). i do have a couple of shirts to wear over my tshirts or a tank. and i wear dansko clogs in 4 different colors, two pair of cowboy boots, and flip flops. if you can't take style advice from me, then who could do better??? lol stacey and clinton had better move over!! lol

Nate's Mom said...

I agree with Kimmybeee. You can add color. I'm not sure about hot pink, but I like her idea of adding your mother in law's favorite color. You can even ask that people where her favorite color, instead of black. I've seen that done before. My husband's aunt's was purple. It seemed much more a "celebration" of her life. I'm sorry you are facing this. You continue to be in my thoughts and payers.

Sheri in CA

Christy said...

Thinking of you!!!

Stacy said...

I have been in your shoes. Not an enjoyable experience at all. However there is one worse....Mom and I went shopping last summer for the outfit my aunt will be buried in. She wants to be "laid out" in green plaid and had a whole list of other things the outfit must or must not be. The job fell to Mom and I because her sons are (insert not nice names here) and won't are a bit about their mother's wishes. You should see the clerks' faces when you tell them what you are shopping for.

Gay Wakefield said...

Amy, what color(s) does your mother-in-law like to see you wear? I agree with the others here that a black/brown color theme is not a necessity, and might be detrimental.

When Daddy died, I wore a black silk knit dress with big, beautiful, bright-colored flowers from the knee down. I said the black was for me and the color was for Daddy; he was full of life.

A true celebration of life focuses on what the honoree loved and lived, so I encourage you to take your cues from her and what she has loved and lived.

Stacy's note also raises the question of what Mike's mom will wear; if she has expressed preferences in that regard, perhaps that could set the "theme" for her celebration.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

When my father was dying, my son was a freshman in HS. He was going to homecoming, so his dad came out from the city to take Mac (and me) shopping. When we found his gray shirt and black pants, Rich said, "You'll be all set for a funeral, too." I said, "We'll be having one soon," and Rich felt awful (not my intention.

Dad died in December, on a Friday, and I went out that Saturday to do what you did. I shocked one salesperson too, which I don't get because when I worked for Marshall Field's, I helped people dress for all functions. Life, it happens, as you know.

I opted to get a black dress and a bright pink cardigan because my dad liked me in pink.

I think I wore both to the wake, but since that occurred the same day as a blizzard, and the next day we stood graveside in -0 temps, I did wear pants.

Anything is okay. It's the words, prayers, tears and hearts that matter.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

Oh, and for my friend Vic's memorial service last November, she had asked us all to wear jeans, so we did. I also wore purple, her favorite color and a pair of her shoes. She died at 24, and her service was on the day we had planned her 25th b-day party. So we were all celebrating her life...

Shelley said...

I'm pretty traditional about funerals - if I'm one of the family of the deceased, I wear black. If I'm just a general mourner, I wear something dark.

On the morning of my fifth wedding anniversary (June 1996), I was driving past a church where people were coming out the doors wearing bright flowered dresses, summer whites, yellows....they all looked so cheerful, waiting there for the bride and groom to come out of the church. As I was driving by, I thought, "Oh, how nice! Someone else is getting married today, on our wedding anniversary!" so I did a jubilant tooty-toot-toot on the car horn as a salute to wedded bliss.

And then I noticed the pall bearers carrying the coffin out the door and down to the hearse, which was parked on the side street around the corner....

That was when I made a major Note to Self: Funerals. Dark colors. Always.

Every time I think of that incident, I just CRINGE.

CWMartin said...

Laurie's dad requested no funeral service, so we escaped that decision. Otherwise she would have been right with you, and she hates shopping for clothes for normal circumstances.

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