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Tony Grist

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Trusting In Allah [Nov. 9th, 2008|10:22 am]
Tony Grist
The prophet had very little patience with funerals (though he was known to weep at them). He wanted them conducted immediately after the death and with a minimum of fuss. Women were forbidden to go to the burying ground because they couldn't be trusted not to wail. The period of mourning was set at three days (except in the case of widows, who got a little longer). Grave markers- even grave mounds- were dismissed as so much vanity.

Yesteday's funeral was a robust mixture of DIY and tradition. The car that carried the coffin was a silver 4X4 with a cow catcher on the front and a sticker reading "Another fucking cyclist". The undertaker wore shabby clothes, a back to front cap and had a blue-tooth in his ear. The ceremony took this shape: an hour for the women to gather round the coffin and keen- and then a quarter of an hour for the men to recite the traditional prayers (which are largely silent). There was no bloody clergyman and no bloody homily.

Death happens. You deal with it and and then move on as quickly as you can.  Life is an illusion- which means you shouldn't take death too seriously- and too important to waste - which means you shouldn't spend more time on death than is strictly necessary.  The dead are in the hands of God.  Trust him to know what he's doing.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: qos
2008-11-09 03:01 pm (UTC)

Obviously I'm Very Biased on this Topic


I have an intense dislike for the sales industry surrounding death: expensive coffins, expensive grave markers, expensive burial plots, expensive flowers. . . But I do think there's something to be said for spending some time memorializing the person who died and acknowledging grief.

However much faith someone may have that a divine power is now taking direct care of the dead, there is still a loss from our lives, and that loss requires time to heal. What that looks like and how long it takes is intensely personal.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-09 07:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Obviously I'm Very Biased on this Topic

Talking about the sales industry surrounding death, I've just discovered Six Feet Under.

I've been to very few funerals I've "liked". This was one of them.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-11-09 03:39 pm (UTC)
I was so sorry to hear about the poor baby. I hope your neighbour and her family get some solace from the, to our eyes, rather perfunctory funeral. He didn't live long enough to be real - what has died is his future.

But, agreed, I want no fuss, either. I'd rather like a little ceremony where personal possessions of mine are handed out to friends and realtives with little notes attached from me. Then everyone can listen to "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" and drink 16 year ols Lagavulin until they fall over.

Scatter my ashes at Arbor Low.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-11-09 03:52 pm (UTC)
that is so beautiful....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-09 07:45 pm (UTC)
The funeral was short on ceremonial, but intense. There must have been a hundred women in the hall, lamenting over the coffin.

I like your projected funeral ritual. I don't know what I want.

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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-11-09 03:55 pm (UTC)
I went to my friend's jewish funeral around this time last year, very simple... but more prayers and the women were allowed to attend... though we stood on one side and the men on the other....

a simple grave...lots of wailing icluding soil from Jeruslem

no stone for a year...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-09 07:53 pm (UTC)
Most funerals are pretty dreadful- at least most of the Christian ones are. I've never been to a Jewish one.

Simple is good.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-11-09 08:07 pm (UTC)
In my long ago R.C. days, I always wondered why they sang "Dies Irae" at a funeral of one who was supposed to have gone to heaven. It was grim and engendered fear, rather than comfort and hope.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-09 09:33 pm (UTC)
You're right.

The Dies Irae is rather magnificent though.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2008-11-09 09:09 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about your neighbour's child. Sad news.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-09 09:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2008-11-10 12:19 am (UTC)
I am so sorry for the death of the baby - I can't begin to comprehend the pain the parents must be going through.

You're right - death happens. But it's so much harder, I think, when it's someone whose life has just begun.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-10 10:41 am (UTC)
The baby was suffering from SMA- a hereditary degenerative disease. We knew he wouldn't live long. As it happens the end came much quicker than anticipated.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-10 10:45 am (UTC)
I don't particularly care what happens after I'm gone. Christian funeral services are uniformly horrible, so I'd rather not have one of those, but I don't suppose it matters very much.

I always remember a guy who stood up at his wife's funeral are proclaimed, "To hell with death, let's celebrate!" Now that's class.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2008-11-10 01:42 pm (UTC)
Well personally, I'd rather people were very sorry I was dead. I would expect at least a modicum of keening, weeping and general misery.

And if I'm going to be cremated (I don't care either way since I will be inanimate), please for God's sake don't play some stupid song like "Don't Stop Me Now" - it's one of those things that seems like a great idea at the time but doesn't work. Some poor kid died of a hereditary condition and insisted on it. It was awful, totally out of place when the parents were grieving.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2008-11-10 02:51 am (UTC)
That poor family.

I think the Kukuyu have the right idea, no ceremony, leave the body to be eaten by beasts. Let death feed life.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-10 10:48 am (UTC)
There's evidence to suggest that that's what the British tribes did back in the Neolithic. You'd need a bit of space though, wouldn't you? It wouldn't work in the modern city.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-11-10 02:02 pm (UTC)
I've been haunted by the thought of the baby lying there on oxygen, everything waiting.

I'm glad it's over, for the baby and the family.

Every time I drive by Mother's house--now being entirely renovated by new owners, so that the room where she (and, earlier, my father) died is now torn away--I remember those last long hours of her quiet dying, with rain falling on the low den roof and her shallower breathing, Janice stroking her forehead--it was like work, like labor. But finally, looking back, not scary.

Of course, I don't know what she was feeling--what was she seeing or experiencing that made her suddenly open her eyes and cry out "God help me!" and look terrified?

All we could say was "Everything is all right. We're here with you. Just relax. We love you."

But I wonder what she saw, why she reached forward, why she clutched the bedrail so hard (as if hanging on).

"The dead are in the hands of God." I think sometimes that she was seeing something at the foot of her bed, the tunnel maybe, and felt herself speeding up...but why didn't she let go?

Sorry to intrude into your own story with my own.
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