Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Life After Death

Death is sad for a lot of people.  I would even go so far as to say it's sad for most people.  It's always hard to say goodbye and let go of a loved one.  After someone dies, we mourn.  We collect the body, display it in a box openly for people to look at and say their final goodbyes, wish a speedy journey, etc etc according to whatever your beliefs may be.  

I have a bit of a different view.  I really don't enjoy looking at body of a deceased loved one.  It doesn't make me feel better or worse.  In fact, I don't like my final memory of that person to be an empty body which no longer even resembles all that a person was in life - alive.  While death is sad for me, I don't cry for the passed family member.  I cry for my family.  To see everyone so sad, to be surrounded by that sadness - that is what is more heartbreaking for me.

I can accept death.  I do believe in an afterlife.  I believe in spiritual energy and believe that it exists beyond our physical bodies.  While I am not a religious person by any means, I feel comforted by the fact that after we die, we will be reincarnated again to experience more challenges in the journey of perfecting our souls.

Why all of this death talk?... you may wonder.  Ro's grandfather passed away on Thursday.  To my surprise, they have the funeral the next day here (In Canada it is usually no less than 3 days later because of all the arrangements to make).  The Brazilian 'wake' means that family members stay with the body the entire day before the funeral.  It was explained to me that in Catholic tradition they used to stay with the body for 48 hours to make sure that the person had really died and wouldn't rise out of a 'fake' death confused and alone. 

Morbid? Yes, but it's been known to happen.

The one thing I liked about the Brazilian traditions was that you could go and spend time with the body by yourself and could say what you wanted, or pray, or just be with the person privately.  Something that has always made me uncomfortable about North American traditions was standing up at the front of a crowded room with your whole family, looking at the dead person, touching him/her, crying... it never felt normal or natural to me.  I always think "this isn't even them anymore".  It's like a projection or something.  I'm not into the whole open casket theory.

Something they don't do here that I like about North American funerals is close the casket and have a 'funeral'.  People get up and speak about the person who has passed.  They talk about nice memories.  Good things the person did in life.  What we will remember them for.  It's nice because you learn things, special things, that you may not have known.  It makes everyone feel a little bit of happiness to have known that person.

One thing that remained the same, however, was family.  There is nothing like death to bring a family close together.  Everyone needs each other, isn't shy to cry in front of one another, no one is afraid to hug, to give comfort, to offer food, or any other comforts... It was time for us to all to stop and be together.
I actually think that on a personal "family" level, it was a good ledge for our immediate l'il family to communicate and catch up - something we don't do even living in the same house.  It kind of erased any and all petty feelings or arguments that were possibly being harboured and gave us a clean slate. 

So, because they didn't do it officially, I feel the need to give a little eulogy for Ro's grandfather.

Although I only knew him for a short time, he was one of the most welcoming, warmest people I met here in Brazil.  From the first moment I called him '' and he treated me like a granddaughter.  He complimented me.  He impressed me by speaking all of the English that he remembered as a once young man who could speak another language.  I felt comfortable speaking to him in Portuguese, even in the beginning when I was scared to speak to anyone else.
From the handful of times we spent together, I learned things about him.  He laughed at everything.  Although I have heard that in the past his laugh could have been heard from 7 floors down, all the way down the street, it was now just a soft chuckle but still ever present.  I learned that he loved samba music.  He loved camping.  I learned that he had loved his wife immensely.  The kind of love we all want to have.  I knew how much he missed her. 
I knew that he couldn't have been very comfortable but he never complained.  We watched the Canadian winter Olympics together and he pointed out every time a Canadian athlete was competing.  He was thoughtful and considerate. 
He is the grandfather that I never had in my adult life (my only living grandfather passed away when I was young - maybe 10 or 11 years old).  I know what an impact he made on Ro's life and from speaking with family and friends on Friday, I know what an impact he made on their lives as well.  "He was just the best" was the most eloquent and to-the-point comment I heard said.
I wish I could have known him for longer but I feel grateful to have had him in my life at all.
Vai com Deus Vô... te amamos para sempre
Christmas time at Vô's


  1. beautiful. :)
    sorry for your collective loss.

  2. This is a beautiful tribute to Ro's Grandfather Lindsey. Megan and I were so lucky to have met him en route to the airport. Even for our very short visit he made a great impression. A truly memorable man. My condolences to you and Ro and to Ro's mom,dad,sister and the rest of the family.

  3. Dear Lindsey,
    I am sorry for your loss.
    Just as a curiosity, I recently learned that the period of waiting for a funeral over the period of almost a week started in the US during the Civil War.
    Families from Boston, Philadelphia and New York wanted to bury their sons and the army developed a way to preserve the bodies to take them back to the Northeast for a proper burial with the families, that is how the tradition started in the US.
    Today is just a very lucrative business, there is no real need to wait so long, just a tradition.
    I don't know how Canada started the habit, perhaps just another influence from the US.


  4. Linds - do feel the love coming from your family and friends (and us in the blogosphere). I'm so sorry for your loss. Give my best to Ro and his family.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...