Saturday, January 27, 2007

Crucian Funeral

Terence, the husband of one of the cleaning women who works here at the villa, died of a heart attack and yesterday we attended his funeral, our first on the island. Because they were from St. Lucia and had relatives all over the world, the funeral was scheduled two weeks after his death, but this seems to be the norm. It's also the norm for his obituary to run in the paper with the names of every relative and friend of the deceased rather than an actual biography of his life.

The viewing was scheduled for 10 a.m. at the church, with mass at 11 a.m. We arrived promptly at 10 to find people milling about, but there was no casket and no family to be seen. Not knowing the protocol, Bob and I sat and waited quietly for something to happen. About half hour later, someone walked in with a box of programs, but rather than distributing it along the pews, everyone clustered around the person and took the programs from her hand. Bob got one and so we sat engrossed reading a beautiful booklet with pictures of Terence and loving messages from his family and friends.

Suddenly there was wailing just a few pews behind us. We looked back to find that the casket had been brought in and placed near the entrance. The family was crying before the body while everyone else was jockeying for position. The funeral director attempted to get everyone to form a line, but it was nearly impossible. We waited until things settled down and we were able to come up to the family and pay our respects.

We couldn't stay for the entire service, but we left moved by the love and the grief for this kind man who knew how to enjoy life. Maybe the logistics of grieving are different from place to place, but the grief is the same.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jamila,

This is Maria,your aunt.As you know my husband past away just one month ago and I am still grieving his passing.I miss him a lot.
You are right,the grieving is the same no matter where you are from.

11:25 PM  

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