Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Living Room

memorial death ritual

Here are some photos of graves that may seem very unusual to us. They say a lot about how people envision the after death existence of their loved ones. Certainly we all want our loved ones to be comfortable in death, to have whatever they need, and perhaps, even be held in high regard by the other residents of whatever plane of existence they happen to be on.

memorial death ritual

In mainstream western culture, it is common for people to imagine that after death, we will no longer need a couch, or a drink, or a pair of shoes. But in many parts of the world, the afterlife is envisioned to be very similar to this one. The dead need food, money and a place to dwell. They might need a car to get around. They might find a job, or fall in love.

memorial death ritual

Where I work, families don't bury living rooms for their dead, but many send along candy, a beer, or photos. They put some money in their loved one's pocket or write them a letter.

Whatever a person's faith, their picture of existence after death is always based on their experiences in life. We have no other point of reference to draw from. So, maybe grandma's ghost will walk around her tomb, look in the mirror and pour herself a drink. Maybe dad will open up our letter in the hereafter and be reminded of how much we love him, or finally learn the secret we held back from him in life. Maybe our infant son will be comforted by the teddy bear we sent along with him to his grave. Maybe the fact that we put fuzzy slippers on mom will keep her feet from getting too cold. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. In any case, it makes us feel better. It allows us to perform one more act of love, to work through our grief, and in our mind, at least, they are happier because we tried.

memorial death ritual


Bill said...

Nice Post Pat. Young children often like putting things in the casket. I had a young boy put his teddy bear in grandma's casket; his mom said he never lets go of it, even at bath time. It's just another way of saying I love you and goodbye. When did being sentimental and loving become old fashioned and unacceptable?

yeah sure said...

Good one Pat !

I love the whacky side of the business. Actually the Asian living room is a fairly common site in Japan / Korea. The Asian version of the "bench" for a place to pray, talk with the deceased and bring family members for group prayer and honoring the deceased with the introduction of new family members or blessings for family decisions.

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