Thursday, September 14, 2006


This morning I went to the funeral of the man mentioned in this post. I've known and been close to his family, especially his parents and little brother, for years, and I wanted to be there to lend my support and share their sorrow.

As is often the case in this part of the world, it was a beautiful day, sunny and cloudless, with blossom bursting from the trees and wildflowers springing out of the lawns and nature strips. Perth is kind of stupid like that. Funerals, especially when the circumstances surrounding the death are tragic, should be accompanied by grieving weather: a steady rain echoing the unstoppable flow of tears, or a railing storm, batting raindrops against the chapel windows and throwing debris around like a hysterical widow. Perfect spring sunshine isn't appropriate.

It wasn't a comforting funeral. The dead man's life had been devastated by drugs, which destroyed his relationships, damaged his brain, ruined his career and eventually lead to his death. As such, there was a tension between the handful of people who were his friends and the majority who, like me, were there to support his family. I sensed that the friends resented the presence of all these people who didn't really know the deceased, and certainly didn't share his outlook on life. As he delivered his eulogy, their representative seemed to be fighting down the urge to rail against all these sanctimonious religious types, apparently flocking to the graveside as if drawn by some ghoulish magnetism. I can't blame him for not understanding. Like all good Humanists the friends were there to celebrate the dead man's life, by whatever tenuous justification they could conceive. But his family and their friends were there to mourn his death. There's nothing more horrifying to a Christian than the death of a non-Christian they love.

His parents coped the only way they could. They quoted Job, when he was told that all his children were dead: "The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

In print it looks glib. From the lips of grieving parents, it is earth-shattering.


Blogger jennifer starfall said...

i'm sorry.

2:01 AM  
Blogger audrey said...

Beautifully written post.

2:38 PM  

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