Funerals are amazing moments of cultural learning. Last week we experienced our first funeral in Spain. And while there is great sadness in the loss, there is also the extreme curiosity on my part to absorb all I could about the nuances of Spanish culture.
We don’t all approach death in the same manner. Family, religious, cultural – each have their own input into how we deal with the passing.
- Spanish rarely say someone has “died”, they use the word that literally means they have “failed”. It sounds very polite.
- Up until just a decade or so ago, Spain had Catholic funerals/graveyards, and everyone else. And to this day, there seems to be a great stigma (even among evangelicals) to be buried in the “everyone else” section of the graveyard.
- Spaniard funerals are the next day, usually within 24 hours of the passing. There is no body preparation, such as make up and hair combing. And several people found it ludicrous that we both put make up on the deceased and wait up to 4 days to have a funeral.
- Spanish grave plots are purchased by families, and then everyone’s coffin is stacked on top of one another. I saw one tombstone with 6 names/dates engraved on top. (And the graveyard is so big that there several bus stops inside.).
- Spanish do not have any “gathering” following the actual funeral service. Most simply go there own way after the 10 to 15 minute service.
While the approach to death may change wherever we go, there are things that remain the same. There is the pain in accepting the loss of a loved one. Sorrow looks the same in every language.
There is also the hope that we who believe have:
He will swallow up death forever!
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
against his land and people.
The LORD has spoken!
In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the LORD, in whom we trusted.
Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”
Isaiah 25: 8 – 9