Sunday, November 09, 2008

Life Is Fragile - a Funeral Update

The night before the funeral there was a gathering at the church. The gathering went on for most of the afternoon and into the night. I guess you could compare this to "the wake". They did not have her body at this gathering though. We finally left at about 9:30pm. The church was packed and by the time we left it was standing room only and there were crowds standing outside looking in. There was singing and talking. They were offering food when we got there, but there didn't seem to be much left. I'm told it is customary that food be served for as long as needed at funerals, but I'm certain they ran out. Like I mentioned, Papa's aunt was a very good woman and well connected to her community. I mentioned that she is the director of a bi-lingual school in San Pedro Sula, but I did not know that she also was the president of a national Honduran bi-lingual school board. I talked to her niece the night of the gathering and I asked how things were going to be handled with the school, etc. and she said she wasn't sure, but that her's will be pretty big shoes to fill.

The next morning people were to meet at the church again at 8:30am and then they would have the customary car caravan to the cemetery. At the last minute her husband and also the pastor of the church decided to speak. He asked the people to stop the negative talk about the hospital or the tragedy of his wife's death. As it turns out she had a very dangerous cancer over a decade ago and back then she prayed that God would spare her life long enough until her youngest daughter, then two years old, was old enough to understand her mother's death. Her husband was giving thanks for the years that God spared her.

There were buses provided for those who needed a ride to the cemetery and also probably to prevent any traffic jams. We were early to the cemetery. The cemetery was a very peaceful place and appeared to be well maintained. There were many, many people there and also seemed to be some important people too in attendance since some personal body guards standing back could be seen.

The hardest part was the loud crying that took place at the burial. Mostly by her mother. I believe this is a cultural occurrence and understood and accepted. It was nothing over the top, but it was very difficult to watch the mother and matriarch of the family cry out in pain and words of disbelief calling out to her eldest daughter, "mi chiquitita" - my little girl. Many people tried to offer words of consolation, or offer words of strength such as "Don't be sad, she wouldn't want you to be so sad". But for that moment at that time this mother was going to be in anguish. It really touched me to see the strength and depth of a mothers love; that no matter at what age - that was her precious little girl.

There was singing at the burial too. It was sung in acapella and was very moving at the moment of her burial. Many, many people surrounded her grave and sent her on her way with beautiful singing.

It was a touching experience.

4 comments:

Olivia said...

It sounds like it was a wonderful funeral. Death is very hard to deal with and you and your husband's family are in my prayers.
-Olivia- Murfreesboro'TN

Cindy in California said...

Thank you for sharing about the funeral. I know it is different than the US and this helps me understand a little more what is typical.

May God continue to comfort all those who grieve this loss.

Laurie said...

Thanks for sharing the cultural aspects of a funeral in Honduras. My uncle lost his daughter to a sudden heart attack about 2 weeks ago. She was only 47. It is not culturally acceptable for a white man to cry at a funeral. I am sure he wanted to cry, and to cry loudly.

aighmeigh said...

it sounds like an incredibly moving experience--i teared up reading about it! my thoughts are with you and your mourning family members.