Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Funerals for Suicides


There has been an alarming wave of suicides reported in the media recently. I wonder if these reports further fuel the culture where ending one's life is the natural outcome of ones personal anguish. Who knows what the troubled mind endures before it reaches the conclusion life is not worth living.  

It reminds me of the times when suicide touched my little bubble of existence. It is,  unsettlingly all too common. This post is not however on what leads to suicide  (The Sense of an Ending,  the book, had a very engaging discussion on it). I do not know enough to comment on these things. 

I've been thinking about the response to funerals of suicides though. People's reaction, how it differs from the usual funeral of any other type of death. How the family of the death by suicide person is shunned. Seemingly close friends sit in judgement of the dead,  as they most likely did, when they were alive. People hesitate to attend these funerals. I suppose for various reasons that harbour on superstition,  judgement and fear of the unknown. 

I truly believe though,  funerals are for the living. For those who suffer immense suffering and anguish at the death of a loved one. A sense of betrayal and loss. A loss they must live with for the rest of their lives. Who are we to abandon them in that time of immense grief over something they did not have any control over. Of course people know exactly what should've been done. Only Ifs floating around freely in hushed conversations. 

Perhaps in these moments if we can demonstrate love, kindness and compassion,  if not to the dead,  for the living. Show they were loved when they were alive,  that they will be missed. And the family left behind,  they are not alone. And these things, there is no one to blame but deep rooted issues that will not be solved so easily. But they are not alone.

Some small comfort,  perhaps. Compassion and love is the role of the bystander in these times,  and not gossip and judgement. 

Ten years later,  I remember a certain happy go lucky,  cheerful girl who died in the ICU, of unexplained burns. Our bodhi poojas,  more for the living grieving parents, than for the dead. A funeral we laid flowers to rest, with as much care as we had done together in all those school functions. To have been there for the mother that wrote a heart wrenching poem that begged her to be reborn as her daughter in every lifetime to come,  and no other mother to feel the pain she feels. Small comfort for her perhaps, but not alone. Never alone. 

Funerals are for the living,  the dead are long gone. The dead do not need us, they are free. 

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