Ritual weepings

April is the most difficult month of this year, F said yesterday, as tears proceeded to vanish in the forest of his beard. We were sitting in the park, smoking a joint to remember a friend who departed too soon. In the morning we had received news of his friend dying in a car accident. We had proceeded to spent the entire day crying, laughing, engaging in erratic behavior (such as knocking our heads in doors and sneezing into our hands), talking, smoking and hugging. Remembering. As we remembered Ben, his thick red beard, robust structure and carrying voice, we came to remember everything else all at once too. As we sent good wishes to his family we remembered our own families, our own pains and unsettled relationships with loved ones. 

Sorrow, once allowed, has a beautiful way of spreading. If a degree of commitment if made to grief, it can become a healing and nourishing activity that nurtures the environment in which it is cherished. As we were sitting there, for once allowing every peculiar motion or feeling to be expressed, I felt more alive than in months. My face was twisting into foreign expressions, my body was moving in unexpected ways and making sounds I usually don’t hear myself make.

It was a comfortable, and cherished space where no words were wrong. As I felt a strangling in my throat, I knew the sadness had proceeded from the loss of an acquintance to more personal sphere. Despite this being a day for Ben I felt completely comfortable sharing a big bulk of myself with F. I told him I had lost a brother, that he was still alive, but I was dead to him for two years now. I told him that we had actually been quite good friends, until he had decided to see me as an enemy. That it was something I felt was completely beyong my control, that I did not know what to do with it. That I thought about him daily but I never spoke of him, because there was nothing to say.

Mourning has to be done, I realized as I was allowing my body to twitch, stretch and bawl. I came to think of ancient mourning traditions, and about how so many cultures deal with grief so much better. Aztecs, the ancient Egyptians and countless other cultures engaged in ritualistic weeping in order to ’let out’ the emotion, and prevent it from becoming an obstacle for future prosperity. How reasonable does that sound? 

In many cultures the mourning has not only been the duty of close family and friends, but there are records all over the world of the use of ’professional mourners’. Somebody who would come to your house, and spend the emotion that perhaps the closest family was unable to channel at the time.

What does a professional lamenter or mourner do? That depends on time and place, but their functions could include singing or leading the singing of dirges, and just plain howling. 

I came to your sorrow, and let mine out, and together we spend the very necessary day with it and with ourselves. We recognized each other, and I felt relieved. See, usually we are the cheery ones. The ones keeping the jokes coming, and the bodies moving. At heart we knew we were both aching though, and it felt good to finally share it.

I wanted to tell him that I loved him and admired him so much. I know he knows, but I wanted to say it nevertheless.

Reference: http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/home/the-aztec-art-of-mourning

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