Yesterday was a sad day for a family and for a community. We attended the funeral of a beautiful young woman who had started Secondary school the same year as my eldest daughter Síomha. She was one of the first friends Síomha made and came to our house on a number of occasions to have ‘cheese toasties’. Although friendships changed and I saw less of Sarah over the years, I had heard of her illness and hoped many times that all would be well. She had made an impression on me right from the start and, I know, from hearing memories recounted in the church, that I wasn’t the only person to be charmed by Sarah.
She was a bright and bubbly girl with the most lovely smile and it seems so brutal and cruel that she could be taken away so quickly.
It made me think and wonder at how we deal with grief and where it fits in our lives. No one is untouched by it although it’s certainly true that many people side step it for a longer period, only facing it in later life. Others have that crashing experience of loss far too soon and are left shocked and betrayed by a life where hope and future expectations are dulled and diminished.
I suppose it’s an experience that makes no sense – everything about our humanity leads us to survive, to progress. Death and loss are a cut off point, a reminder of how frail and powerless we really are. It can distort our view of ourselves and the world we live in, take away the illusion of comfort and safety and leave us stripped bare and alone.
Really we are ill equipped to deal with it, and in a society which increasingly glamourises 'perfection', the raw ugliness of grief has no real place. So many lead much of their lives through social media, where things are polished and preened and posed to appear picture postcard 'real'. The tangled complexity of loss just doesn't fit in this scenario. And the isolation, geographical and otherwise, that people can feel in today's rushed society, is magnified a million times when something truly earth shattering happens to us.
I was reading a little about mourning and grief in different societies - the Victorians had strict and complex rules of etiquette around death, perhaps more a reflection of the repressed social times rather than a real expression of grief. Nonetheless, it was acknowledged in a very real way.
I was also struck by the following account of mourning in Ethiopia, taken from Wikipedia:
If you liked this post you might like some of my other 'reflections posts:
Shyness, why it's perfectly ok!
Amy Shumer, my thoughts on the 'plus size' controversy.
Bullying in Adulthood