Let’s talk about Dying: Embrace the rituals that help us let go

2013-08-21 10:00

Death is never easy, but thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us, Mama Helena

Zethu Zulu via email

Exactly 10 years ago, in August, my father passed on. I was only 13 years old.

The following month, my half-sister passed on and then in October, my mother passed on.

Three deaths in three months, but still I don’t talk about dying.

Funerals in my family are drawn-out affairs.

The whole process can last up to 10 days, as in my father’s case.

Never mind that I hadn’t seen him when he died, I only saw him in his coffin when his body was brought home on a Friday afternoon before his burial the next day.

It was my first funeral experience and I hated it.

Since then, we have had several more deaths at home and I do not attend funerals because I just hate how unprepared I was when my father died.

At least, with my mother, she was sick and her death was somewhat imminent.

Who knows, maybe one day I will pay a visit to the funeral directing company Doves to understand how this funeral business works, but until then, I am fine living in my bubble.

About those death cafés, if there’s someone planning to host one in Joburg, please let me know. I would like to attend.

NokwandaKhoza via email

My father passed on in 2006 and to this day, I carry regret and pain for not having spent enough time with him.

The day his body was brought back home in casket is still in my mind.

I didn’t get to sit down with him because I had thought it was not OK to do.

However, I so wish I had taken the time to say goodbye.

Mama Helena, your articles have enlightened me.

I didn’t know that you could wash and dress the body yourself.

Thanks very much.

Lungelo Magubane via email

Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us, Helena.

Your words may guide many others who find themselves in similar situations.

I attended the funeral of former Chief Justice Pius Langa and somehow felt the family were deprived of an opportunity to deal with their loss privately.

The state memorial service was OK, but proceedings at the special official funeral just seemed too much.

Compare that with the private funeral of former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, I know which I would choose to allow family the space to bid farewell to their loved one.

Again, thank you Helena for offering Joe Slovo comfort when he needed it most.

Mama Lindi Dlamini via email

I have been reading your articles from day one.

What a wonderful thing you have come up with.

I have learnt so much and you’ve prepared me to a certain extent.

Vuyokazi Ngwenya via email

Well written, profound and very touching.

Your articles remind me of my parents’ deaths.

I saw my father in his coffin, he was handsome as always and peaceful.

When my mother died six years later, I decided to touch her face, I was shocked by the terribly cold skin.

Death is never easy.

Your articles bring back memories.

Thank you for sharing.

With tears in my eyes, I truly appreciate what you have shared with us.

May the love of God be with you and your family.

Beulah Thumbadoo via email

I was very close to my mother and she loved talking about her death and funeral.

She prepared everything to the last detail so we had little to think about.

So, when my sister asked if I would join her to see her body, I was resistant at first.

It was difficult and uncomfortable, but I suppose I have some peace knowing that I stepped up.

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