I have never given much thought to how I would love to be buried or how I would love my family to remember me, but certain events led my mind down that road this week. The first incidence was taking the above picture on my way home from church on Sunday. I initially took the picture to help inspire a fiction story but after watching the episode of “home and away” were Ricky had a simple memorial for Brax’s by burying certain mementos in the ocean where Brax loved to surf my mind strayed from the original plan. The simplicity and intimacy of the scene resonated with me.
In Nigeria it is common practice to bury loved one’s in the family home/compound often times located in the village; this is the traditional practice. This tradition is fortified by a scarcity of cemeteries, the few that exist are riddled by several drawbacks including ill-management, overpricing and the ever present possibility of grave robbery. Private cemeteries on the other hand are better managed but the price is exorbitant costing up to thirty-five million naira/plot. Honestly, if my family spent that much to bury me I would reach through the coffin and make the stars dance before their eyes. What!? there’s so much that amount of money can do for the living and not a single thing I can imagine a dead person would gain from having such an opulent grave.
When my father died I wasn’t able to attend the burial but from all accounts it was done in the traditional way befitting a man of his status in society. Which means a wake was held in our house in the city whilst the burial was done in the our village home. My brothers and other male relatives dug the grave and it was watched over night to ensure no dodgy activity occurred. The burial ceremony lasted the entire day, it included a Christian service, a viewing of the corpse by family and guests, burying of the coffin in a grave in front of the house, followed by feasting and entertainment of guest which lasted into the early morning; dad was finally laid to rest. It was an occasion marked by a mixed array of emotions ranging from thankful to sorrowful, thankful for a peaceful burial and sorrowful for the lose of a life. We paid our last respects in a way his generation would appreciate.
No disrespect to my dad or his generation, but when I die I would love my family to hold a simple music themed memorial where all my best songs would be played. I don’t want a six foot grave neither do I want people who meant nothing to me around at my burial. I want my ashes released into the soil. If they want a memento to remember me by all I can ask is that it be meaningful and inexpensive.
Across the world there are different burial rituals, what is the common one where you live? Would you like to be buried that way? Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by.