A different approach to Death
“In the Anglo-Saxon world, death is a whisper. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, lower our voices and draw the screens. We want to give the dead, dying and the grieving room. We say we do so because we don’t want to intrude. And that is true but not for these reasons.
We don’t want to intrude because we don’t want to look at the mirror of our own death.
We have lost our way with death.” ~ Kevin Toolis.
Some cultures deal with death better than others. The Irish have a quite robust and honest approach to it all.
The wake was first mentioned in Homers war poem the Iliad and was still one of the oldest rites practiced by humanity….until about 200 years ago when this starting to change, but not for the better. Wailing women, feasting and funeral games are rituals that would still be recognizable in Ireland but not always around the world.
The wake died away with the medicalization of death, with industrialization and urbanization also playing their part.
Out ancestors though, felt the weight of obligations between the sides of the living land the dead and that the wake acted as a pathway to restore the natural order of the world, to aid a community to overcome a death, and to give what is now commonly known as closure.
In County Mayo in Ireland they still have a radio announcement 3 times a day with information on the deaths and funeral arrangements of the 10 or so daily departures, so you can keep up to date or pop along to give your respects. If you miss out on any there is a telephone line at 95c per minute for a corpse update.
In many other cultures now though the very act of naming the dead publicly would be frowned upon. It would be drawing attention to the universal nature of our mortality.
But, still in Ireland, the living, the bereaved and the dead still share the world and come together at the wake. Death, by its very ordinariness, is no stranger.
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~ by John Tomnay. CEO at Apex Office Centers