Unveilings aren’t things that are done in a lot of places. Most cultures put a headstone on their loved one when they can without a big fuss.
In maori culture, unveilings have taken the place of “the scraping of the bones.” Traditionally, a persons body was buried and later retrieved. The bones were scraped clean. Tohunga (priest) hid the bones so the dead persons remains could not be desecrated.
Today, in place of this tradition, an unveiling is used to unveil the headstone or memorial of the person who has passed away. The stone is blessed, and their life is celebrated. The unveiling is supposed to symbolise moving from one stage of the grieving process to the next.
This year and the coming years will be full of unveilings for me and my family and friends. 2016 wasn’t a kind year for us.
Before last year, I had been to a grand total of 2 Tangi that I remember and a few more that I don’t. I turned 25 last year. 2 funerals in 25 years isn’t too bad. Last year made up for it.
I thought that those funerals were hard but yesterday, the first unveiling for the year, reminded me that unveilings are harder.
They bring all those memories of that persons passing and funeral back to the surface. And not just memories of that person I found, but memories of every person you’ve ever lost.
What’s worse about an unveiling is that time has passed since that person died. Seemingly, you shouldn’t feel as sad or as mad or as upset about it.
Reality: You probably feel just as shit as you did the day they died.
Cherry on top: You feel like you shouldn’t feel like that and so to add to your feelings of sadness and anger and loss, you also get feelings of inadequacy, embarassment and generally feeling like your not doing it right.
You can’t prepare yourself for death, even if it is expected. When it happens your instincts take over and you’re in a daze. Unveilings are planned. You get to deal with all the feelings of losing someone without the added benefit of adrenaline and all those other good hormones that get you through the funeral.
So here we are, grief dragging me back under and I find myself treading water once again. This first wave has hit me hard. Maybe I’ll be better braced for the next one.