The main reason we grieve when someone dies, is not because we will miss the person, but because his death reminds us of our own mortality” this is a paraphrase to words I once read somewhere, can’t remember where, sentiments almost synonymous to my own thoughts of about a decade ago quipped:
“ How do I stop the tears,
When I become the (dead) person? Fit into his shoe
It’s like coming to face with my fears,
All this time I have been living to die? Can’t be true”
A little over a week back, I attended a funeral of a colleague’s dad who had lost his two year post diagnosis battle with cancer. I wasn’t alone at the funeral, together with me were about a double dozen people from my place of work, who in one accord had accorded their thoughts prayers, time and presence towards the sendoff of their colleague’s daddy. It wasn’t just us at the funeral, but there were about 200 hundred other mourners. Despite being in the midst of such a fairly large crowd, the event served as an occasion to reconnect, and talk to self-more than to the people who were gathered. It was a moment of honest reflection.
Death is an intricate topic that has always been of interest to me. When I think of it I get intrigued just as much as I get scared by it. It is something of fascination, something that is paradoxical in nature. As much as it is dreaded and brings grief to many, I’ve always found a certain twist of beauty to it. Something that makes you want to smile and crack that sadness. Comical eulogists have always been my favorite at such gatherings, they know just how to break the monotony of grief. They are however not the beauty that am referring to, this beauty is much deeper.
At times of death more so when you are at funeral, you get to recollect how your life has been spent. It is like we get an out of body experience, and momentarily our souls transcend to the other side, but get stuck in a realm of life and death. Somewhere in between light and dark, between the yin and the yang. It makes us want to make peace with our maker, it makes us want to call those who we truly love and let them know just how much of a jewel they are to us.
At that moment of reflection, we get to think of our soul mates; past, present, and possibly future. We get to think of our kindred spirits, our families and true friends. We also think of those we have wronged, as well as those who have wronged us and we’ve refused to let go of the grudge we hold against them. We wish to call each of these people, but decide on saying a silent solemn prayer to them instead. We pray for their well-being, and for their forgiveness in areas where we’ve hurt them.
I now understand why it’s always said rest in peace, it must be because everyone gets a moment to cleanse their souls in that moment of life and death. But just after cleaning your soul off all the thoughts of hate, anger, negativity, and you are ready to eternally tour the other side; God brings you back to life, back to light, and you regain your consciousness. That is a real beauty that is seldom experienced unless in situation where a person has died.
Daddy, as my bereaved colleague and her family called their dearly departed, had been a good man, according to their words of eulogy. For 68 years he had lived, and at no one point in those 68 years had so many people gathered in one place because of him, it happened after his death. The funeral event was well coordinated, there was enough food and water for mourners, there was enough seats and shaded shelters for everyone in attendance. The sound system was just right, so was the well-rehearsed songs of worship, praise and dirge belted out by the church choir. Speaker after speaker spoke with great eloquence, of the man who was now lying breathless in a casket. They all followed the script often relayed during funerals. However none of the speakers’ speech was as heavy yet fluid, honest and tear-jerking as that of the newly widowed loving wife to the departed.
She spoke of her husband’s last moments; the excruciating pain he’d gone through as he battled the monster cancer, his last series of prayers, and his very last breath. As she spoke, a lady I was seated next to, engaged me into a conversation regarding our own mortality. We discussed how we would like to be remembered, the type of legacy we’d wish to live behind, but more interestingly, the type of funeral service we’d like to have.
I described to her how I envisioned my own funeral. It will be some sort of a white party. Mourners will be dressed in all white. The funeral venue will be decorated with Fresh flowers; a blend of white, red and black roses, yellow lilies, and green and purple orchids.
Mine will be a closed casket. Only close family members will be able to see my body, but then again only if they so wish. Instead of a framed an A4 sized photo portrait, there’ll be large banners of my best photo moments. I probably should go for a professional photo shoot just for this.
When that day comes, I hope that my eulogy will be so good, that it will give those present a feeling reminiscent to K’naan Wasarme’s opening three lines, to Mary J. Blige’s Each Tear Remix.