I write in philosophical mood. I am of that age where friends and family are beginning to drift away and die.
Some x years ago, a friend of mine died at a relatively young age. The pastor who spoke at his funeral, spoke with such wisdom that I realized that wise words have infinite power to comfort and heal. Our friend he said, on dying so young, had an incomplete biography. It was our duty to remember and speak often of our friend, because in doing so, we completed his all too short life and we healed ourselves.
Several years later I was asked to speak at the funeral of a very difficult man I knew well. I spoke only of his poverty-stricken and loveless childhood, which haunted him his whole life long. After the ceremony several people came up to me to say, that for the first time, they had "understood" the deceased.
I do not recommend or propose that funerals be used to regulate scores or to get even. What I have learned however is, that a bit of insight and a touch of authenticity makes a huge difference in coming to terms with reality and healing.
I have been at a ceremonies where I would never have recognized the person they were taking leave of , so different was the leave-taking and the person I knew. A friend of mine who went to the funeral of her ex alcoholic husband, told me cryptically "He got psalms, flowers and prayers". Not one word was said about a difficult life steeped in alcohol. I wondered if there was any sort of closure for anybody.
As I said, I am in a pensive and philosophical mood. An acquaintance died on Sunday. I shall not be at his funeral which is taking place on another continent. I can well imagine that at the service it will be said that he was a hard-working man who did the best for his family. All of this is absolutely true.
I however, if I were there, would have liked to add, that this honest and sweet man, who had had a truly rough tough childhood, never, (neither in word or deed) perpetuated any of the abuses that were done to him, onto anybody else. Now that is a hero!
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