We say goodbye
Funerals are never the same. They are unique like the ones who departed from life. People in black, flowers,
wreaths, some prosaic words and a burial-feast for the guests. Awkward attendees. Cold buffet, scones, drinks and whispers. Puzzled mumbles. A longer and more intimate hug for the widow. Nervous turmoil around the food. Chairs are essential too. Long-not-seen, forgotten faces. People from the past and a few from our present days. Faded acquaintances, loose hands, deepened lines. We are being evaluated, and we are inspecting them too. The cold buffet will surely not affect our judgements.
The guest slowly collect themselves. The room becomes noisy by recovered memories and uplifting souls. We almost forget the reason we are here. Evanescence slowly becomes replaced by life. Many talk at once, you can hear phrases here and there: I can't even remember the last time we met! How old is your youngest one? It's our turn now! The kids never visit us, though we did our best! It's so sad we must meet like this! Alex became a doctor I heard?! Time flies! The last time I saw you was at uncle Steven's funeral. Do they still not talk with each other? Thank God Gaby doesn't have to see this! Ahh, heart attack - there was nothing they could do about it! Yes, it's been a year since my honey passed away. Diabetes took him away. You know how much he loved to eat! I'm so happy you came! It hurt Eve till her death that you two couldn't settle your misunderstandings! Is there a chair left somewhere? Come, sit with us!
Hesitant dialogues. A touch of sincere joy within the grief. Polite questions and subtle exploratory inquiry among the shelves of now. Painful fates cramped into one room. Belated confessions. Palpable tension, sensitive topics, shunned glances. The lost bonds need to be found somehow. Though this is pain, yet it is a bond. It connects us. It is time to re-connect, to strengthen this bond, even if it is only for a few short hours. This is how it goes according to the etiquette rules. But suddenly a thought emerges somewhere deep inside. A feeling of not being a stranger to this place and to this people overcomes us slowly. The recognition that we are here now, together, because we are family, unobtrusively becomes reality. The world has changed.
In the old days, when someone died all the relatives gathered for the funeral. They came even from very far distances, since they knew that being born and dying only happens once in a lifetime. They came, wearing their Sunday best. Men with bowed heads clutching their hats came to say goodbye, to pay their respect, to accompany their long-lost brother, father or grandma on their final journey. They knew blood is thicker than water. They never forgot the will of fate that they had to bend their knees to. This fate even brings personal conflicts to heels for a few hours. It is a force that can help settle differences, as differences have always been a part of family life. Real or fancied harms can be found in everyone's lives and so in every family's history. Sometimes these conflicts come to an end. Sometimes not. Sometimes the conclusion is that there is no solution and those invisible bonds must be severed.
Storms and sails
Many of us wonder how we fell into a given situation, though deep inside we know well enough that each and every conflict has a reason, a history, a background that slowly but surely prepared those intensive, sudden emotions. Everyone is right from a certain point of view, and everyone believes in his or her truth. The tragedy of this situation is that truth is not universal. Truth is rather comprised of information, filtered and interpreted through our own experiences, knowledge and understanding. Everything can be the truth from our own point of view even if this aspect appears as an outrageous lie to someone else. It is my filter, not yours, so how could our truths be the same? This is a very complicated dilemma, a conflict that cannot be easily judged in an objective way since we are involved too. Conflicts cannot be solved if the participants do not hear and so do understand each other. They cannot be solved if we just keep on repeating our truths on and on and on...
For possible solutions one must step out of the situation he is stuck in and should not judge his opponent however difficult this might be. If I don't accept the other one, I do not accept myself either. If I show no respect towards the other one, I do not respect myself either. We are reflections of each other. It often happens that a family member reflects those problems and issues of our lives which we cannot bear, which we cannot and do not want to face. The family member shows us something that hurts. He reminds us of something that we don't want to remember. He confronts us with something that we lack or that we do not lack at all, but what we ignore. This is a painful but really important recognition.
The answers are within you
Instead of noisy arguments and possible assaults it is worth stepping back and finding the real cause of the conflict. What is the reason? What is the whole situation about? Where are my limits? What is my role in it? How did I get this role and do I want to play it at all? Does my soul suffer or is my ego hurt? Despite the conflict, am I loved, respected, accepted as I am? Am I open enough to recognise the damages, pains and desires in the other one? What does the relationship we share mean to me? What do I see in the other one and what does he see in me? Do I believe in his goodwill? What are his intentions? Do I really believe this? Do we have real conversations or are we deafly and blindly screaming at each other? Is it worth to break that bond for a small profit? For almost nothing? For one-third of my late mom's ruined house? For an effective concealment of my faults? Is it worth to try over and over again, after we have failed a hundred times? Is it worth the try, if instead of blood it is poison that's rushing through our veins, if each and every reunion becomes a deadly overdose?
Our souls carry the answers. Our hands carry the mirrors. The solution emerges in us. The limits must be set by ourselves. If something changes, shifts inside, we have to redraw the lines. Pointing fingers will not help. Passive resentment and waiting will only solidify the situation. No boat can pass a frozen river. Do not wait till you have to attend a burial-feast where meeting the others is inevitable. Face yourself! Learn to listen! Learn to recognise the hidden fear between the lines. Learn to see your opponents as emotional beings and show your true self! But do not forget, letting go can be a solution as well!
If you cannot handle it together, if you cannot find a better solution, if you don't believe in change, it is better to step back. For both of your sake. Keeping distance is sometimes the only way to love. Do it if it is needed! Do not stay away because of selfish defiance, anger or huffiness, but only because of respect towards the both of you. This way you will not have to avoid anyone, you will not have to feel ashamed and will not have to stare at the ground with your head down. This way you can share your mourning even if you do not share anything else.
It is important to find your solutions first to be able to live a happy life. Burial-feasts are not about life, they exist because someone else's time was over. They are rather like a forewarning that you should use your opportunities and try your best for the time left.
Written by Andrea Lung
Translated by Sylvia P. Farkas
(Picture by Everrip)