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Archive Written by  Claude Mills Thursday, 13 January 2011 11:36 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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WHEN I was 17 years old, I 'stepped in' love for the first time with a girl called Shania. I loved Shania in this real bad, 'I-can't-sleep-till-I-hear-your-voice' kind of way. She was a complete flirt. She drove me crazy with lust, love and her lips.

Then we had an argument. It was the Summer of '98, just before she went to Miami to spend time with her family.

I called her the 'b' word, and whatever nasty names I could invent at the time. She stormed off in a huff. I vowed to call her overseas on a free ICAS number to apologise. But I never got the chance.

The next time I saw her, she was lying in a casket, dead. She was all dolled-up in cosmetics and formaldehyde in an awful simulation of life.

There had been a terrible car accident, her mother told me... "but the embalmers did a marvellous job in restoring the body." At the time, I wondered if that were the grief talking or she was losing her mind.

The embalmers' restorative art was cold comfort for me. Shania looked almost alive...and somewhere in my heart, I wanted her to do a 'Lazarus'.

She never did.

That was seven years ago.

Since then, I've been to many funerals, the last being that of colleague Winston Wilson Jr. And the funeral ritual never gets any easier for me.

I hate funerals: the graveside mourning, the wailing, the viewing of the body, the smell of formaldehyde, the professional mourners, the wakes, the singing, the procession, the meaningless sermonising, the music to which YOU can commit suicide to, the red dirt on your shoes and the plastic smiles of your 'grief therapist'(industry term for mortician).

It is hard enough coping with your loss, but then you have to walk the gauntlet of these distractions cooked up by the grief care industry to 'assuage your grief'.

Whenever I attend a funeral, I am forced to relive my own personal pain of losing Shania. I've never really got over that one.

It is a sad game dealing with the loss of a loved one. The wistful attempts to maintain routines in the face of the unbearable tragedy can be a lonely job, sometimes. You go to work, you go to school, you smoke, but it's all background noise to the anger and hurt bubbling inside you.

No matter how many people are around, you mourn alone. Worse, decorum dictates that you engage in a sort of politeness to hide the outrage you feel as the world glides glibly about its business as part of yours shuts down. The world does not care about your pain.

When you lose someone close to you, I find that people look at you funny sometimes. They come to you, and offer trite comforts, and you can see the probing in their faces as they look in your face and try to read the emotional weather there.

Death comes to everyone, but I have a problem with people who treat personal tragedy as though it is just a glitch on the road to happiness, just a bump in the road, folks, nothing to worry about.

Death makes you question everything about your life. And it's hard to swallow all that moola about meeting them on The Other Side of the Jordan. What if there is no heaven with streets of gold, harps and puffy white clouds? And if there is, what guarantee is there that your loved one will be waiting there for you? Suppose they've been naughty and are confined to the seventh circle of some fiery existence? What then?

Love doesn't conquer all. It is death that conquers all.

Read 3458 times Last modified on Friday, 14 January 2011 04:31

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