Spoiler alert: this is a kinda sad post. Today I took a day off from work and I mourn alone my aunt who’s passed away.
Do we need rituals to mourn?
Short answer: yes, we do.
Here’s the long answer.
The rituality of death is born along with the man as a social individual. It’s been created to help individuals work out something much bigger than them, and often something that’s sudden or unnatural – in fact, the ultimate disappearance of another human being.
For three times in my life I found myself mourning without going through the fundamental rites of death. The first time it was so traumatic that it pushed me to study the sociology of these rituals. The second time, my sister and I were stuck in Perugia by a crazy snowfall; we spent the night telling anecdotes about our grandmother Vincenza who died that day.
This time, however, I am alone. I’m alone in another country, without logistically taking a flight to Italy and joining my social group. Although I like to consider myself as a loneliness and personal spaces fan, the elaboration of the death of a loved one on my own, alone, is infinitely far more painful, traumatic and complex. I am realising it now.
Today I mourn alone
I find myself without the social tools to face my aunt’s new status quo, without being able to share words, looks, human’s physical presence. In a nutshell, all the passages that mark the transition from one final state to another definitive one of a person you loved.
To not sink into the physical, physiological somatisation of this event, I took the few tools I have now, and put them into practice. I went running. I ran with all the breath I had, as fast as I could, pushing myself at every step and with every single fibre of my body. But that’s not enough. So I used the closest social instrument of this concept: social media. I wrote this message in Italian on my Facebook personal wall, and I want to share it here in English too.
Meet Aunt Carmen
Because it will be never to late to meet her.
Aunt Carmen was my only aunt from Franz’s side. You know, sometimes you don’t need to have any “blood” relationships to get along with someone as if it’s you own flesh and blood. Aunt Carmen and I have always understood each other. We spent hours chatting about so many things, nice and nasty ones. She saw herself when she was younger in me, while I saw in her an example of a strong and avant-garde woman, one step ahead on the times, and the cultural and subcultural context she was surrounded by.
Aunt Carmen was a tough girl. She always sported short hair and had such a beautiful skin, she seemed tanned all year around. She traveled to so many countries, she saw the world and the world saw her, her grace, her kindness and determination.
Some of you might have met her at my wedding. She often dressed in white, and she was dressed in white also at my wedding, while I was dressed in blue. She loved the blue colour. Now that I think about it, it seems to me a beautiful coincidence now.
Aunt Carmen supported me in difficult moments, when the social pressure crashed on me bad time, and she knew one or two things about it. She shared with me intimate secrets I will keep with me as precious teachings, because she revealed them to me only.
Aunt Carmen was a slip of a girl, but she was a lioness.
Today I mourn alone, but I will always remember her with joy.