The day before. my immaculate body in the North Sea
It was just a small object for sale on a stall, in the shape of a teardrop; nothing fancy, but I loved it at once in the way that you do when things catch your eye and appeal, strongly. I knew I would want this clear glass paperweight to be one of my funerary objects, a possession to be buried alongside me, when I die.
Why? I didn’t know and I still don’t. It’s so hard to convey the inevitable in words, non-fictionally. I’ve been circling around this for days as if this article is bones, surrounded by red flashing lights, a dangerous question which I can’t solve or put right. I wanted to approach death reflectively, writing a stream of conscious thoughts, and couldn’t. Grave-goods are too culturally important and need careful consideration.
Surely, ornaments buried celebrate the adventure of life. Ancient Egyptians enshrined fantastic artefacts, symbolizing what had gone before. In fiction, Beowulf’s pyre was built, ‘hung with helmets, heavy war-shields and shining armour, just as he had ordered.’ My beloved Grandma observed the Catholic ritual of, ‘laying-out.’ When a member of her community died she tended to them. I’ve often wondered which special items she had placed alongside the person then, in the 1940’s and 50’s, and I’m thinking about which special items are buried today. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n58kh. Thought-provoking.
I’m sincerely hoping I have broached this subject as my Nana would have observed a custom, with soulful respect, preserved in dignity and with the lightest touch like a stroke on a cheek. So, I ask, what would you have buried with you?
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by Jo Colley