The older I get the more I think about death. I read the obituaries with interest. Not to find names for my characters, but to see if anyone I know is listed. Did you ever hear the joke about knowing you’re not dead if you don’t see your name?
I’m not babbling. Making a joke is one way to deal with grief and stress. I don’t like funerals.
They remind me too vividly of the loved ones I’ve lost. They happen all too frequently when you have a large family.
Funerals rites are based on superstitions. You wouldn’t know it to attend one of the hush-voiced solemn visiting hours the modern American thinks is normal. Sitting around the casket comes from the practice of attending the dead until they could be interred. The body was never left alone. What if the dead person wasn’t dead? Someone prayed and watched since being buried alive was a real fear in the days before adequate medical aid.
Did you ever notice the big double doors on many old houses? That was to carry out the coffin, throwing wide both doors. At no other time were they both opened because the departed spirit could return only through the way it left.
How about the mourners eating together after the burial? That was based on the belief every morsel eaten was taking away the departed’s sins. Some cultures paid poor people to come and eat at a banquet since the sin was absorbed by the consumer.
Wailing and weeping loudly is to frighten away evil spirits that might trap the departed soul. The more primitive the culture, the louder the cries. In many Middle Eastern countries, they hire professional mourners to cry and weep.
How about that beautifully carved tombstone? It was heavy enough to hold a restless spirit in its grave.
I wonder how many superstitions I’ve forgotten? Do you know any?
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