22nd June 2017

This morning we went to my mother-in-law’s funeral. She was 82 years old. She died a long way away from where we live and her body was brought to us, to where her family are. It was hard to think about her being in the coffin, her body being in the coffin but what she was, everything she had been and known, not really being there at all. Her coffin was draped in flowers and a man wearing black, with a black hat, bowed and walked in front of the hearse and I thought then about the value of ritual, of the ways in which ritual is soothing, and whilst I am not religious, I cannot follow a particular ideology, I can understand the ways in which rituals that surround religion are of relief and comfort, how they can soothe and grant meaning to things which are otherwise incomprehensible and maybe they don’t do anything in themselves but give the living a structure that they can exist within. Because sometimes we see the chaos and the darkness, the maelstrom of human life swirling madly around itself and it is all we can do not to scream, not to go mad or give up. If we think about it for only a moment, it can be impossible not to admit that everything we do is pointless, that our achievements and our battles are nothing but trinkets and animal squabbling. Yet there is such beauty in life, there is suffering and joy, there is love and there is risk. We compete and cooperate in equal measure. We hold on and we let go. Today we let go.

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