If you have around 13 minutes, please check out this fascinating TED talk by anthropologist Kelli Swazey.
She speaks of the Toraja, a group in Indonesia whose funeral celebrations often become raucous affairs that can last days or even weeks. About five minutes into this video, she explains how some families even keep the corpse in the home, feeding it ceremonial food and keeping it very much part of the family life. She shows some fascinating pictures.
More information on the above photo can be found here.
This ritual serves a stark contrast to our way of funerals in the West, where we are quick to get rid of the body, quick to get it out of sight. Even if burial does not occur right away, the body is housed at the funeral home where no one sees it save for the mortician. Swazey talks of the social implications that can result. Ironically, as quickly as we want the body out of sight, we are taking more and more extreme measures to keep people alive.
What can we learn from the Toraja? What is your biggest complaint with how we deal with death and dying in the West?
Tracy Lee Karner said:
My biggest complaint is the way we try to rush people out of their grief, no longer honoring an appropriate time of mourning, as if death doesn’t exist or shouldn’t have an impact on us.
This next part is totally off the topic, Rachael, but I’m going to do another bloggers’ community late this month, on the theme of “pumpkin party.” I’d like to feature you as a person in my blogosphere “community”. Would you consider sending me a link to something you’ve posted or will soon post (related to food, pumpkins, harvest-time and/or community) and I’ll incorporate it in my blog and link back to you.
tracyleekarner (at) gmail (dot) com