I love funerals.
Does that make me odd?
It ties in with my love of graveyards and cemeteries, the knowledge that hundreds of bones lie beneath my feet in varying stages of decomposition, inevitably all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, impairment, etc. – becoming nothing more than dust giving life to nature; the one absolute we all share, after birth, is the fact that each and every one of us will die. There is much joy and happiness to be found at funerals. A celebration of a life well-lived, the love of family and friends, the beautiful memories and the quirky anecdotes. A family united in grief, old and young, close and not-so close, sharing a moment of reflection in honour of the deceased.
My uncle passed away last month, suddenly and unexpectedly, despite his advanced years. Married to my Mumsy’s dearly departed sister and father to my cousins, he was a man I admit I was not close to, and was not particularly fond of. This stemmed, in part, from my own introversion and need for solitude, silence and routine. He was gregarious, blunt, exceedingly opinionated, and – in my childlike observations – very stern. I think that what it boiled down to was a simple personality clash and I didn’t spend enough time with him to get to know and understand him. Plus, he scared the little me completely and utterly, and I don’t think this feeling ever deserted me.
Last week we attended his funeral. It was a beautiful service. I gave hugs and comfort to my littlest nephew and held my Mumsy’s hand. And although I feel sad, I do not grieve for him. Instead I simply grieve for his children and his grandchildren, for Mumsy and for two of my siblings who were also close to him.
It made me wonder – do we really grieve for other people? Or is our grief selfish? Are we purely grieving for the things we want that we now can’t have?