Canonisation in our Nation

Old_Man_Grieving_-_Vincent_van_GoghThere is no way to approach this topic in a way that won’t come off as offensive, but I’ll try my best to sound considerate and understanding.

It is odd to live between two cultures but occasionally it proves to be extremely rewarding, especially when a particular phenomenon in one of the cultures contrasts the other to the extent of the latter being incomprehensible (or even disturbing).

Something I have been pondering over a lot lately is how we deal with the concept of death in our culture. I have noticed profile pictures being changed to honour the dead in the part of the mourning process, both when the mourner knows the person who has passed away and when the aforementioned is a complete stranger (but happens to be famous). I have noticed that many of the mourners at funerals include people who never thought of congratulating the person they have lost on their birthday back when they still were alive. And I have witnessed the most sickening of quarrels between siblings and relatives over a departed person’s inheritance (but that is an entirely different can of cultural worms that I will not open now).

Now, back to the dual cultural insight. I was born in Sweden, and I have never detected any of these behaviours here (except, of course, amongst Iranians). What I have noticed here is that people show a person they’ve lost the same kind of respect as they did back when the person was alive (which sometimes includes showing them no respect at all). There is no pretending. No scheming amongst relatives over inheritance. No fake mourning. And. The. Death. Of. The. Person. Is. Not. Dealt. With. As. If. The. Person. Was. Holy.

Like I said before, there is no way to talk about this delicate and sensitive matter in a way that will not be interpreted as offensive. And grieving is one of the most personal things that only the unluckiest of us will have to endure. But I’m also trying to make a point here, because I do not see the glorification of a person’s death as something that should be encouraged. What I wish is that we, in our culture, collectively will learn to honour and appreciate the people we know when they are alive instead of canonising them after they have departed to the point of being fake and dishonest to both others and ourselves. Death may be inevitable, but immoral or hollow decisions do not have to be.




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