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Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Funeral [1/5]


I attended my first Mozambican funeral recently.  The girl who died was my own age, though I’d never met her.  Apparently she’d swallowed rat poison.

The entire community marched to the grave site with the deceased being carried on a wooden stretcher at the front of the procession, the rain beating down on the bed sheets used to cover her body.   A brief prayer was said, and the body was lowered into the grave.  Notable persons, presumably family members, came forward and filled in the hole, passing the shovel among themselves after about a minute of scooping.  Soon, close friends received the shovel and eventually distant friends began using their hands to transplant the dirt.  And by the time the final piece of earth had been placed, everyone, myself included, had stuck a branch into the grave, creating an arboreal and beautiful final resting spot.  Most people were wearing everyday clothing and the mood was far less somber than that of American funerals; small bursts of laughter rose as the grave was filled.

My superficial understanding is that, after a death, the family (namely mother) typically wails violently for days, then accepts the death (outwardly, at least) and leaves the mental burden of the death at the grave site.

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