There’ll be more than enough time spent on grief, mourning and sorrow today. I’ve decided to spare myself the first part of the exercise where friends and family gather at the funerarium for the transfer to the casket with attendant pain for all except for the deceased (I suppose – if the deceased is traveling in a Bardo Thodol type journey, I don’t know that all the wailing from the living can do him much good). I’ll leave with another photographer around nine; we’ll pick up a few other people on the way to the crematorium in Albi.
Every country has its own variations on burial customs. In Canada, the viewing in funeral parlors involves a gathering of people inside a space in which an open casket displays the deceased’s remains, surrounded by flowery tributes. People used to escape the room by heading down to the smoking section where, as I recall, acrimonious exchanges often occurred.
Over here – in this town, at least – people gather outside the viewing rooms. These are small spaces in which two or three people at most can enter at one time to view the corpse displayed on a bed-like structure and with a bedroom-like coverlet covering the lower extremities.
My personal tastes don’t incline me to the snapping of funeral photos, least of all to close-up views of the corpse on display. However, friends sometimes ask me to perform this service for them, so I do. Personally, I prefer to remember people in their live condition but I understand others may want (or need) the evidence of the person’s decline as part of their own letting go.
The surprise moment, relative to Jean’s death: after leaving the Volubilo office yesterday where others were finalizing the list of people still in need of notification, I ran into a young man. We had a contentious relationship, to put it mildly, back in the days where part of my job involved teaching him to understand the meaning of what he read. A relationship in which he threatened to bash my head in and/or blow up my place with me in it. He’d done one photo workshop with Jean, so I figured he should at least know about his death. He was saddened by the news, but grateful I’d told him. Thanked me, and shook my hand. This morning, I note he shared the posted news on his Facebook page.
So much for real-life. Story-wise… we’ll see what transpires this afternoon.