Online memorial – virtual farewell

Refiner’s Fire III ©FrogDiva Photography

It is Sunday morning, the sun is shining over Berlin, the wind is chilly, I have the apartment to myself (well, with the cats) today, and yet, I am indoors and tapping away at my keyboard. The world has changed in the most unexpected ways in the last seven months, and today was the first time I attended a memorial service online.

To be perfectly honest I am not sure how to feel about the concept of online memorial services, but given the fact that I can’t travel to the Philippines, or that it is still not possible to hold large gatherings for celebrations or funerals in the Manila, live streaming is the next best thing. In a way it is far more inclusive than an actual memorial service because for those of us residing in countries outside of the Philippines, it allows us to be part of something very special and we don’t have to live with the regret of not having been there. In some strange way, it was even more solemn than if I had been sitting in a church or chapel, because there is nobody else to look at or noisy children to distract me. Focus on the speaker was 100% and this format allows you to pick up every word, so today was an eye-opener on many levels.

I don’t like funerals to begin with, and if it is eventually up to me, I don’t want one. I much prefer a living funeral, something that I’ve written about in the past, but I will cross that bridge when I get there. Virtual farewells are something I fail to wrap my brain around, but today’s memorial service reminded me that the parting and farewell are not the main purpose of such gatherings, but a celebration of life – of the moments shared, the paths journeyed together, lessons learned, and values applied. Yes, the pain is there, and the grief will walk alongside us for a fleeting moment, but what lives on is something that death can never take away.

To me the true funeral is when a friendship breaks, or you lose touch with someone who meant a lot to you, or you have been a victim of injustice, hate, racism, abuse, and so on. The scars that form are impossible to erase, and each time you look at them and revive the terrible moments that led to the breaking point, you are reminded that it is time bury the memory of the person, place and event forever.

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