The funeral of Mitul Shah
We bear mortality by bearing mortals — the living and the dead — to the brink of a uniquely changed reality: Heaven or Valhalla or Whatever Is Next. We commit and commend them into the nothingness or somethingness, into the presence of God or God’s absence. Whatever afterlife there is or isn’t, human beings have marked their ceasing to be by going the distance with their dead — to the tomb or the fire or the grave, the holy tree or deep sea, whatever sacred space of oblivion we consign them to. And we’ve been doing this since the beginning.
The formula for our funerals was fairly simple for most of our history: by getting the dead where they needed to go, the living got where they needed to be.
Ours is the species that deals with death (the idea of the thing) by dealing with our dead (the physical fact of the thing itself).
The presence of the dead is an essential, definitive element of a funeral.
These four essential, definitive elements, then: the corpse, the caring survivors, some brokered change of status between them, and the disposition of the dead make a human funeral what it is.
Stements extracted from an essay by Thomas Lynch here.
If Mr Lynch is right, how much more essential and elemental to bring the dead to their funeral for all to see and mourn, as in the photo above of of Mitul Shah, killed by terrorists in the Westgate mall in Kenya.
The cremation of Mitul Shah