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My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [240] | Scholarship Entry

She sits cradling her dead husband’s body, gently stroking his forehead. "You were such a good husband," she says tenderly "why did you have to leave us?"

The room they are sitting in is bare; a coloured hand spun rug on the floor the only decoration. A solitary bed occupies the space under the window.

An elderly lady adjusts her shawl and rises to sit on the bed. She clasps the man’s hand in her own, "He was a good man my dear" she says, her grief clearly visible. There is a murmur of consent as the women in the room nod, weeping silently. These women; family, friends and neighbours, are here to pay their respects to the man they’ve known for years, but more importantly support his wife during these first difficult hours.

Outside the house word is spreading through the village, work will stop for the day as a sign of respect, and both men and women will gather outside the house in support. Those closest to the family will go inside and sit with them, say goodbye and help share their pain.

The man’s sons are in the yard preparing a rough wooden structure that will be used to wash and prepare his body for burial that same evening. Their time to sit with their father and say goodbye will come later, before all the men in the village will share the task of carrying the body to the graveyard.

As I sat listening, learning about love, loss and grieving in this village, so different from what I know, it made sense to me. I was overcome with how removed my own society is from death. What has happened that makes it wrong to grieve publicly? Why can’t our loved ones see, hold, and talk to us in the hours after death and be actively involved in the burial preparation. Just because a person takes their last breath does not mean they are no longer the person you have loved for so many years. If you cannot grieve you cannot start to heal. How will you say goodbye to the ones you love?

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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