Attending Funerals


I have attended so many funerals.

I am an authority

On the conduct of the rites,

On the ritual milling around,

On the sequence of prayers and gestures,

On the predictable reading of texts,

On the pathetic search for redemptive anecdotes,

On the hymns which strain to breathe life where there is none, and

On the vain attempts of preachers and friends 

To lift the mourners' spirits.


I have learned from attending funerals

That there is no remedy for grief--

There is no real lifting of the spirit.

There is no cure for the deep black hurt

Searing the souls of the bereaved.


I have learned from attending funerals

That words, sentiments, embraces, handshakes

Seen in truth's clear light

Are near insults, and

Would be true insults

If the true mourners' hearts  

Were not on that day flooded with charity

Born of true grief.


--June 12, 2013