Sadness and Celebration: A Good Goodbye Funeral for David Bleicher

May 16, 2023 | 0 comments

The funeral for my husband David Bleicher took place on May 3, 2023. His death was caused by multiple medical complications following prostate surgery. In three weeks, his health declined precipitously, with a heart attack, sepsis, cardiac arrest in the hospital, heart failure, and other medical challenges. I chose hospice care, which was an incredible blessing for a peaceful exit. Read about his journey and obituary here.

Dave and I are Jewish, and members of the Reform temple Congregation Albert in Albuquerque, NM. Rabbi Celia Surget and Cantor Barbara Finn conducted the funeral. Both were incredibly supportive leading up to and following Dave’s death. The funeral included traditional psalms, such as Psalm 23 and Psalm 121, and the prayer El Malei Rachamim. The Mourner’s Kaddish was recited at graveside during the burial.

Jewish funeral wicker casket

A wicker basket casket, because Dave did the laundry. Matt the Traveling Bat is inside with him.

These elements made this funeral A Good Goodbye specifically for Dave:

  • The casket was a wicker basket coffin from Passages International. Dave did the laundry in our family. When we were preplanning our funerals, he chose this model because it was biodegradable, and it looked comfy. Attendees at the funeral were impressed, saying it was simple yet elegant.
  • A reading from The Lord of the Rings, since Dave liked that trilogy. I love the Song of Songs reading recited for men during tahara ceremony of ritual purification, and included the always thought-provoking reading, You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral. Text of the Song of Songs and the Lord of the Rings readings follow the video.
  • Before Dave expired, I brought Matt the Traveling Bat to be with Dave during his last day on hospice. He carried this toy bat in his car, a faithful traveling companion. I wanted him to have it for his final journey. I asked the funeral home to make sure it was placed in the casket with Dave after his tahara.
  • In a nod to our participation in the Wednesday Night Pickin’, Grinnin’, Drinkin’ and Lyin’ Society, we ended the funeral with the song “I’ll Fly Away” from the film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

The services provided by French Funerals & Cremations were impeccable.

Video of the Funeral

A Good Goodbye Funeral for David Bleicher

Song of Songs 5: 9 – 16

How is your lover different from any other, O beautiful woman?
Who is your lover that we must swear to you?
My beloved is milk and wine, he towers above ten thousand.
His head is burnished gold, the mane of his hair black as the raven.
His eyes like doves by the rivers of milk and plenty.
His cheeks a bed of spices, a treasure of precious scents,
His lips red lilies wet with myrrh.
His arm a golden scepter with gems of topaz,
His loins the ivory of thrones inlaid with sapphire,
His thighs like marble pillars on pedestals of gold.
Tall as Mount Lebanon, a man like a cedar!
His mouth is sweet wine, he is all delight.
This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

(This version is from the translation by Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch)

Reading from The Return of the King, Chapter 9: The Grey Havens

(Frodo and Sam have met the Elven folk to depart Middle Earth)

“Where are you going, Master?” cried Sam, though at last he understood what was happening.

“To the Havens, Sam,” said Frodo.

“And I can’t come.”

“No, Sam. Not yet anyway, not further than the Havens. Though you too were a Ring-bearer, if only for a little while. Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”

“But,” said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.”

“So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam…. But you are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you…. Your hands and your wits will be needed everywhere…. And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on.”

Shivah after the Funeral

Jewish funeral tradition end of Shivah walkThe mourning tradition for Jews is for the immediate family to retreat to their home and stay there for seven days as they receive the support of their community. Prayer services are held in the evenings. I just held two nights of shivah prayer gatherings the first two nights. People brought food and women from the synagogue helped set up and put away the refreshments.

At the end of seven days, the family takes a walk around the block with their supportive community to signal a re-emergence into society. In my case, a group of close friends came and accompanied me on a walk around the park near my house. A friend took this picture. I’m the second person on the right. Notice the blue dot in my shadow? I think that’s Dave’s spirit, following me.

May his memory always be a blessing.

A Good Goodbye