Friday, July 30, 2010

Some (rather rambling) Thoughts on Mourning

Today was the Share Burial at Calvary Cemetery for Alexis Gabriel and other babies who had died in the same time frame. I had expected just a simple burial, not an event requiring a program, so that there was a program and "service" threw me for a loop.
I like cemeteries. I like funerals (as our church does them). I do not care for the composite of poetry, meditation, and contemporary music that is usually termed a "memorial service". I finally walked off during the last poetry reading because for reasons I couldn't articulate at the time, it was not helpful - more just vaguely upsetting.
I sorted out why on the way home. The service seemed focused on how losing someone is always sad, that we don't stop loving someone when they die, and the grieving of survivors rather than the comfort of the Resurrection. There WAS that, sort of, hinted at, but that wasn't the main message. Thinking back, that may be the result of trying to simplify the service - neutering it, actually - so as to "reach" everyone there, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, what have you. It was generically Christian, but with a kind of humanist feel to it. It felt like the focus was on the grieving process and not... I don't know.
And I want to know in what translation of the Bible the final verse of Psalm 23 is written "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for the rest of my life." That's WRONG. And it was jarring in its wrongness. I also dislike "the darkest valley" versus "the valley of the shadow of death". I wonder if someone picked that translation because they were reluctant to use the word Death; but it's a funeral. Death is why we were there. People die. We all will die. Call death what it is. It's an inevitable part of life.
So... not much on death not being the end, but not much on death itself either. I guess that means the focus was mainly on the grieving process and us. As much as I appreciate Victorian mourning rituals (hey, they had no problem acknowledging death), sentiment is not something with which I'm comfortable. To focus on grief alone (the acknowledgment of, expression of, the working through, etc) is not comforting, and that was basically what I got out of it. That, and that there is a translation of the Bible out there which is in need of correction.
We're going to cut our surprise lilies tomorrow and go back to the cemetery, and I think I will print out 1 Thessalonians 4 and take it with me.
I find myself using his name comfortably now - for a couple months at least, he was "the baby" when I talked to anyone outside our family, and I actually didn't talk about him much, because some people hadn't known I was pregnant, and others didn't know I'd miscarried, I didn't want to upset people by drawing attention to it, and of course no one knew the name, since we picked it after the miscarriage, so I didn't use it. Then Kittyboy and I passed by the Right To Life Center downtown and I showed him the one-month-size baby in the window and said, "That's how big Alexis Gabriel was when he died," and so Kittyboy's been talking about him since ("Ayexis Gabwiew was sooo yittle! And his body didn't work wight!"). So we talk about him now. Kittyboy's happy to be taking flowers "for Ayexis" tomorrow. Memory eternal!


candleprayer said...

Memory eternal!

I hate bad translations of the Bible too so you're not alone on that one.

Caeseria said...

I googled an approximation of the butchered 23rd Psalm, and in a roundabout way found out that it's New Revised Standard Version - with which there are enough issues that its use isn't allowed in Orthodox Bible study. WOW. I can only guess what our Church thinks of "The Message".

Mimi said...

Memory Eternal.

This was so beautifully said.