The Final Chapter

The funeral of a loved one is the final chapter in The Wheel of Life.

Whilst being a very sad and solemn ceremony, it is the human ritual where we say goodbye to the earthly body of the person we knew and loved, and every religion has its own way of saying goodbye, as does Buddhism.

There is a moving chapter in The Buddha, Geoff and Me, which covers the ritual of a Buddhist funeral and that is how I would like my final chapter to end.

At my Father’s funeral I read the following poem by Henry Scott Holland …

Death is Nothing At All
Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and it brings tears to my eyes reading it now. I feel however, that it embraces the Buddhist idea that death is not the end, it is merely a new beginning.

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