Hilary Bradbury-Huang. Participative death and mourning.

Perhaps more personal a blog than usual. I am convening family members for the funeral-memorial of my brother who died in a tragic accident 44 years ago. I see how the spirit of participation, which arises from the philosophy that we live in a participative universe, has shaped this experience. In holding the funeral memorial we remember my brother (Bill) and we also hold in our hearts all whose tragic deaths marked loved ones left behind. I have been curious to note how many of my close friends have had siblings die young and I wonder if we somehow smell that from one another and the huge toll it takes on a family. And as we understand that about one another, not much needs to be said about it. Of course we wonder how can our parents get over such a thing? And yet death and suffering is a natural part of life. Without it all would be fixed, solid, stolid – another form of frozen death. In my eyes the memorial will be held here in Portland, for my parents it will be in Dublin, for my sister in Boston, for my friend in Tel Aviv … others will light candles around these many masses and chantings of the heart sutra.  We have coordinated our internationally attunded clocks for “participating together” at 10AM/18.00 GMT on Saturday October 1st. This is a 21st Century memorial. By default I love ritual and by practice I have come to love participative ritual. I read a lovely poem today by Wislawa Szymborska – too long to include but called “On death, without exaggeration.” I will, however, include some lines from Emerson – which evoke for me gentle but intense curiosity about the nature of this participative/recycling universe we get to call home for a while.  Wow aren’t we lucky indeed! It’s called “All return again.”  Please participate!

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new strange disguise. Jesus is not dead; he is very well alive; nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle; at times we believe we have seen them all, and could easily tell the names under which they go.”