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Life Arts    H4'ed 8/3/10

When Sober Misery in Life Leads to Death

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Throughout the funeral, the frostiness drifted stagnantly in the air. The brother's family was in the back of the room while my father stood at the front of the room greeting people as they came in. He conducted the mentally exhausting work of spending hours hearing, "Sorry for your loss" from the many family and friends who would miss my grandmother. How many times can one hear "Sorry for your loss" in one short period of time? Better, how many times should a person have to hear such a phrase?

Here was the lesson. The pain of death is already painful enough. If you have pain between people who have not died but are there mourning, the pain can be even greater.

The tension between friends or relatives especially siblings should not be palpable at a funeral. It needs to be worked out. Since you can't know when you will be wishing someone's soul prayers or best wishes as they embark on a journey to whatever destination they hoped to go after their death, it's better to relieve the tension sooner than later.

I didn't cry. I wanted to. I reached the point where tears were about to well up and flow from the ducts of your eyes. My heartbeat escalated rapidly. I felt my face turn red. I didn't feel like I was holding back tears. My mind was racing; that kept the tears from coming.

Watching my father take one last trip up to the casket, with his back to me, his wife by his side, and my brother walking up to hug him. My father bending over to kiss the body that had been prepared and nicely done up, the people in the room staring, and his brother's family crying.

My father, stepmother and brother all hugging each other in front of the casket, myself knowing I had to be up there going up to hug my father and give him what little comfort I good, and then, finally, seeing my father and his brother embracing and holding each other for that one moment that was the culmination of the funeral ceremony, this human ritual, the way we give ourselves permission to let go of someone who has died.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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