Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Care of the Dead

We honor and care for our departed in many ways.

Some of what we do is profoundly practical;

-collection of bodies by families and health workers;

-cleaning, preservation, and clothing or wrapping of bodies so they can be neatly managed;

-documenting and displaying of bodies so that those who had dealings with the departed can know that they are truly dead;

-final disposition of bodies that prevent them from becoming food for hazardous beasts or disease-spreading vermin.

And these are practical, sensible steps that humans execute to properly manage the dead in almost every culture, and which we have done since the days of the Neanderthals.

These tasks have also a 'ritual feel' to them, a depth. I think that few can care for the dead without being moved. Like children, or the very ill, the dead cannot care for themselves. They will not complain. They have no words, arguments, or expression any more. What filled them and gave them life is gone.

So we care for them. Sometimes we can express things to the dead we could not, cannot, to the living.

The dead do not judge.

The dead do not get angry.

The dead wait on us, and on God.

So we care for their mortal shell;

We place pictures, reminders, and little offerings;

...Where they died,
...Where they are buried,
...At memorials,
...In our workplaces,
...In our homes,
...In our lives

The dead cannot use these things.

The dead don't need flowers or sea shells,
Pebbles or crosses,
Candles or pictures

But we do.

We living, need to remember;

This one was, and is no more
This one lived
This one loved and was loved

This was one of us.

-for Boomer, and all our loved ones

1 comment:

SB said...

Thank you, Ben.