The inaptitude of coffins.

So since the spreading of my Nanna’s ashes, funerals, coffins, and death came up in a big way.
I’ve always been a bit interested in death. And decently obsessed with my own.

Not in a weird way. You know, the other not-weird way hahahaha

Funerals fascinate me. Coffins perplex me!

How can someone even fit into a coffin?!

(side note: I totally get the logistics of physically putting a person in a coffin)

But no matter how many funerals I have been to… it just amazes me.
The belief that someone’s life and dreams, hopes, fears, aspirations, pet-peeves, passions,  idiosyncrasies, opinions, favourites, weirdness, dispassions, memories, habits and all their colour can fit into a tiny little box. Because it totally doesn’t! In no-way, in no uncertain terms, it totally doesn’t!

Even their names! How do names fit onto a tiny little plaque? And how could that ever possibly capture even a minuscule snippet of  that person? And why would we ever insult them with a snippet? They were perfection. We need totality.

A cathedral. I get that. A whole damn cathedral for every person that passes away. Now that makes more sense to me! Or maybe a whole entire cemetery for each person. Or like, a river. And the river bed, and the trees that surround it. Or the whole entire field of wild flowers that have popped up since the latest rains, and run the length of the roads as well. Or that bush walk to the beach along the windy path of overhung branches, low running ground cover and rolling sand dunes. Or a whole entire art gallery, floors and floors of contemporary concoctions next to classic movements of colour and form… Those are the things that capture human-ness in its entirety. That is what we need!

And on the plaques that would now be grand road signs, declarations of directions passed, and futures planned… Or perhaps they would be windy trees that have withered the storms of the past… we would see their name as they wrote it; that first time, in their school uniform that was way too big, holding onto the pencil that towered over their innocent little hand. And then, what about the love hearts they wrote their name into, surrounded by their latest crush. Then the etchings into trees or new side walks. And then there is the signature. I am an adult; signature. I am driving a car, signing for money, accepting a pay check, promising this to you; signature. And then with marriage or more, this name changes. Maybe more than once. Maybe a great many more times.

Oh the lives that you have lived my dear!

And then, we’d see how others wrote your name. When rushed. With love. With due time and care. In grief. In anticipation.  Angrily. Urgently. Passionately. Carelessly. All of it.

And the jokes. How do we capture the jokes?  Or the stories?

And the way you nod. Or smirk. Or watch people with those eyes. Or the way your eyebrows would rise as your eyes go wide – Oh yes! – you tell me with this deliberate passion, because you knew that telling the story that way, would bring you right to this moment. And it worked perfectly.

And the things they told you? That caught a tiny bit of their soul, in that clump of sounds that have meanings attached to them. And what about every single person they have ever spoken to? Now we are getting a more accurate picture. The way you spoke to the lady at the checkout. The nurse who always came in an extra time to see you. The school child trying to sell you something. The gentleman you offered biscuits to. All of them. They have this droplet of you, and your perfection.

Can they come to the funeral also? Can they share the impact that you had? Because that’s what we need here.

And you may tell me, but what impact?  And I mean the subtleness. That thing that strings your life together without realising it’s happening. The way that two souls pass in the wind, exactly at that moment, exactly at that place, and exactly in that way. Knowing and being, and ‘nothing changes’ because everything already is. That’s the impact I am talking about.

The impact of knowing everything; wholly and completely.

The impact of a life as an endless string of moments. Each seen in a different light by each different participant. Smelt differently, felt differently, remembered differently. But all formed to make a complete whole. All of it. A complete-ness of you.

And that string has feelings and thoughts that are intertwined as an undercurrent. Experiences and predispositions that fed each action, and reasoned every choice.

And how you wouldn’t always agree with me, and my plan to save the world. And that way you would say your ‘mmm’, somehow holding the space with me, knowing it was perfect to dream this dream whilst I could. Before the world had taught me otherwise.

But you see, the world has tried teaching me otherwise. Repeatedly. But it is because of you, and so many others like you, that I can ignore that message, and hold onto life and love and truth regardless. And probably change the world anyway.

And what about they way you liked your toast? Underdone slightly. Mostly. Practically warmed bread. Anything more was unacceptable. But that was only a symptom. A symptom of a rushed childhood of far too much work, and far too little play.

What other symptoms are we missing?

Or how you burnt the potatoes that one time. For me. And I never let you forget it. Because, although that moment was a moment of imperfection for you, that moment was, and is, insurmountably precious for me! You sat there with me. Just incase I needed you. As I was told stories of past waters under past bridges. You sat there. With me. For me. I love you for that. And I love the burnt potatoes for that. That is why I would never let you forget it.

And the clique of having memories – are just frankly, not good enough. Because my memories alone, whilst I cherish them endlessly, don’t tell me of your totality. They tell me of the us we found here, together, for this split second. But I want more. I want to revel at your profoundness, and glimpse your galaxies.

And for such things, coffins are simply not enough.


5 thoughts on “The inaptitude of coffins.

  1. I’m a bit obsessed with death as well; I think that happens when you experience a few family deaths at a formative age (so I’m unapologetic. and a bit scornful of those people who do that stupid shudder and claim it’s “morbid”). Whenever someone has died, the coffin when it comes into view is the thing that floors me, even if I saw the dead person die. A box. With them in it. Going into the ground or into a furnace. I could never hold it together when the coffin came out.


    1. I am so glad it’s not only me!!

      The box is incredible. Like… so wrong. Incredibly wrong! I get that completely!

      I think death is a powerful thing to experience in the formative years. You really can’t deny the life/death thing then… which I think is important (the lack of denial)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The box is definitely wrong. I sometimes think when I see those viking / oldy-worldy burials in films where the body is swaddled in white gauze and sent out to sea or burnt on a pyre, that that might be preferable to that hideous polished box that we are so attached to as a culture.

        Liked by 2 people

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