Parents should be looked after by those who would have remained behind. There is no reason why that shouldn’t be the case. I recently attended a funeral where there were several people but unfortunately, they did not know each other. I wondered what was happening at this funeral where each one who stood up to say something started by saying they did not know the other mourners.
By Rev Dr Levee Kadenge
The minister tried to bring order but could not. Her efforts were in vain because of the confusion since most of the mourners were seeing each other for the first time. The people had come from distant places to lend dignity to the funeral but did not seem like they were there to console each other. they gathered because they were related to the deceased in one way or the other. The deceased woman was in her late 90s.
It was a huge gathering of people brought together by death. It all started when one person stood up to give his speech and said that he was sure most people did not know each other. This is what he said; “I was brought up in this home when I was very young. Little did I know that I would come to bury this old lady. I was brought up here as a young person by my parents and I went to schools in this community.” He had retraced his steps to the village to bury the lady who had played a role in his life when he was still young.
Another lady stood up and made a clear reference to that effect, that she also was brought up in the deceased’s family but very few people knew who she was.
Then, it was a young woman’s turn to speak. This woman was very young indeed and she was coming to the village for the first time. This is what she said; “They looked for me because I am in the lineage of the family that gave birth to the ‘child’. I did not know that I was so important to the extent they had to dig for me and found me in the back of my rural area. I am the mother of this one who has died, but this is my first time to come here. Today, I am here to bury my daughter and I am so honoured even though I did not know her during her lifetime.”
Such was the extent to which this woman belonged. She had several relatives who came from far and near but did not know that they were bound to each other by how they related with the deceased.
When the pastor realised that the people at the funeral did not know each other, she put away her planned notes and gave us a unique service on that beautiful day. She understood the shortcomings of the people that were gathered there that day. She started by saying that what she had prepared was going to be for the next generation. Today, she was going to preach on what she had sensed lacked at the funeral.
She said all her days in the ministry she had never come at a funeral that she met so many people who claimed that they did not know each other. She did blame the old woman, she also blamed relatives who did not visit her or each other. The deceased was a respected person in the community yet she did not create an opportunity for her to be visited by such a group of people who had come to mourn her. This included her relatives which she should have known herself.
For 14 years she had not been up and about like other people who would travel to and from her village. She was wheelchair-bound. So there was no way she could have travelled to see all her relatives. What could she have done to leave the village? She was bound to it by her incapacity.
We should check on each other when we are still strong in this life. Relatives should not wait for such sad events as death to come together and then seek to relate with each other during mourning. Why should one get a huge crowd of mourners when they were lonely in life? The ones that do not visit their incapacitated or sick relatives should not bother with paying the last respects.
At this funeral, there were so many people who had gone there for the first time. Why only appear to bury someone when there was no meaningful relationship when the deceased was still around? The minister was so touched she said first-time visitors should not have bothered coming.
People should make an effort to cultivate relationships. It is very important. The journey to pay last respects does not make sense if there was no relationship to talk about in the first place. Get to know your relatives before they die.
Those with ears, let them hear.
l Levee Kadenge is a theologian based at United Theological College. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.