Saturday, 19 January 2013
Highly recommended (by me, so get on over there) post on the Good Funeral Guide.
"Suffering isolates us; loving presence brings us back, makes us belong," says a priest in the original, quoted article.
"Now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; and the greatest of these is charity"
"Charity" here is more than the business of bunging a few quid at the NSPCC because it's Christmas, which is of course fine, in itself; but charity in this context is broader and fundamental. It's surely a love that has in it no possession, none of the desires of the lover, a focus entirely on the person who needs love. Compassion, not possession.
Compassion is almost scarily impersonal, that is, if it hits you it feels broader than you, nothing really to do with yourself. It simply arrives. It is demanding and tiring. For bereaved people, it is surely an essential need.
That is why we all get so furious with people in the funeral "business" who either suffer compassion fatigue, or never could find much compassion in the first place. And that's why we are so pleased when we find people who can't help being compassionate. It just happens to them, they bring it to us, and it helps us to live.
The difference between compassion and sentimentality seems to me absolute.