Monday, November 27 I got up very early, and just before nine o’clock Caroline was brought back by the funeral director and she lay on a trestle in the front room, with lots of flowers. She lay there until half-past twelve: over three and a half hours. All the children arrived and the grandchildren, and the guest began arriving, and they all went in to see Caroline, who looked so beautiful. I kissed her, and dropped tears on her cold, cold face.
Thursday, April 25 Where is she? Her body, which I loved and knew so well, was taken away and burned, but she’s not there … I think she’s happy, but I’ll never, ever see her again till that day I die and after that, who knows?
Tony Benn — Diaries
Last week we looked at belief in angels. There were some good comments, and not for the first time we reflected that losing someone is something that is, for most people, decidedly not susceptible to rigorous rational analysis. As Gloria Mundi had it, “it’s a deeper need than rational thought … Who’s going to jump up in a funeral and say ‘he’s not looking down on us, he’s gone, dammit’?
Wendy Coulton believes that her deceased grandparents act as her guardian angels: “It hurts no one else to believe this and I consider myself blessed and loved from people I cherish. They do not have wings and their special power is an enduring and unconditional love for me. I believe in them and they believe in me.”
The feeling that the person who has died is out there somewhere, waiting for us, is strong, expressed for many by that Henry Scott Holland reading about the one who has died being in the next room.
It’s a mystery. It’s mystery that keeps us wondering and also keeps hope alive. The same for people disappear in this world and whose body is never found. Those who love them never give up hope that they are somewhere.
It’s happening now to the families of those who were flying on MH370. In the words of the brother on one missing man: “We are not giving up hope. Because if there are no answers, there is no finality. So, miracles have happened…”
No finality. No end to the mystery. Every one of us goes missing in action someday. For those who love us there may live on a hope or even a belief that we are out there somewhere. For the relatives of those on board MH370 there is the same hope and, as for Tony Benn, the terrible pain of not knowing.