Family Events as Vectors for Healing
October 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
I attended a family funeral on Tuesday, October 11. I have not attended many funerals in my lifetime. Perhaps the only other funeral I have attended was for my grandmother, who died in 1986. I am unfamiliar with the rituals and routines for funerals.
This family funeral was held in a Catholic church. The body of my deceased cousin was in attendance in the form of a casket on wheels covered in a draped cloth.
The alter was nicely decorated with a few beautiful bouquets of flowers. There were these gigantic candles placed around the altar. The candles were lit. A choir was placed in the upper loft at the back of the church. It was a small wobbly choir, not strong singing voices nor strong musicianship. A little frail sounding. There was an organ somewhere in the church, I couldn’t see it from where I was sitting. The sound of the organ was mysterious as it flouted out from behind us. However, the organist was not a strong musician and the organ playing also sounded a little wobbly.
The church was sparsely filled with family of the deceased, some of his friends from his group home, and others. I wasn’t sure who all these other people were. Perhaps they were parishioners who were friends of my aunt and uncle. My aunt and uncle are members of this Catholic church.
My bereaved aunt and uncle sat in the front row of pews beside the casket. Beside them on the same pew was their remaining son and his wife. Their daughter, CousinB, sat beside me on my left the pew behind them. My sister and her boyfriend sat beside me on my right. On the pew behind me was my mother, BrotherTo, SisterinlawG, NephewA and BrotherTr. Behind them on the next pew was BrotherA and SisterinlawV.
There were at least three layers of experience that I encountered during this funeral. First, there was the Catholic funeral mass. Second, there was the family of deceased cousin. Third, there was my own immediate family, represented by my mother and four of my five siblings.
Each of these layers provided a rich source of notes and observations. Information. And each of them had an effect on me. Each created their own sets of perturbations that I processed as sensory motor data from my field of perception.
There hasn’t been anyone that I can talk to about my experiences that day. I do not want to burden my marriage with any more family talk. I can’t talk to my best friend about it because she is sick and already grieving the lost of her 14 year dog companion. I can’t talk to any family members about it because they are unable to actually discuss anything of substance about it. They are able to identify things they liked, or appreciated about the gathering, but they are not able to inquire any deeper into the experience. I need to talk about it.
So I will discuss it in relation to various readings that I will draw on to tease out the elements of these encounters that have so deeply affected me.