To condole or not to condole
My father always said that there are two events that a person must never miss : a person’s wedding and a person’s funeral.
I’ve always been socially awkward at both especially since, in my opinion, more often than not, one knows either the person who is getting married or the one who is dead. And neither has the time to talk to you at that time. Especially the one who is dead.
As I am getting older, I seem to be attending more funerals or at least offering condolences. But often, because of the traffic , it kind of becomes difficult to attend obsequies. An often times when you go to condole, the family is busy with other matters that need their immediate attention.
I then wonder how does one offer condolences to the family in mourning?
- Can one make a condolence call by telephone or WhatsApp ?
- Is it polite to call in advance and make an appointment?
- Then for how long does one sit at a prayer meeting?
- Can one make a condolence call after the stipulated time of mourning?
- Is a phone call or an SMS rude?
- How appropriate is a condolence email?
- How close should you be to the deceased to offer condolences?
- Or is it ok to condole if one only knows the next of kin?
- Does one offer a floral wreath or a bouquet or a garland?
All this confusion set in when I first had to make my first ever condolence call. Sister Mary Anselm asked me to take a wreathe to the funeral of a class mate who had lost her father.
I had to make the trip on bicycle with the wreathe slung over the handlebars as it would have got crushed had I strapped it on the carrier . Luckily I managed to get the wreathe there in one piece. But when I went up the stairs to the house, I found it strangely empty. The servant who answered the door told me that the family was at a prayer meeting and accepted the flowers on their behalf .
The entire episode seemed so meaningless.
Closer to home
Earlier this year when my father-in-law passed away, we didn’t have a prayer meeting. It is not our custom or tradition to have one and people are expected to drop in any time during the 10 days of official mourning. Yet it was quite annoying and inconsiderate even when someone came to condole at 2 in the afternoon! Imagine disturbing a siesta !
Yesterday 6 months after the event someone came to make an official condolence call. This was all by appointment. Unfortunately while it was convenient for him, it was not particularly convenient for us. Plus he was delayed in traffic and came an hour late. So by the time he did show up, it was more appropriate to have a sundowner than a cup of tea!
So much time had elapsed between the call and the funeral that calling it a condolence call was quite meaningless.
Of course we were glad it turned out that way because in my opinion the loss of a person is felt each day and talking about it makes things easier.
What do you think ?
Sharing these solemn and somewhat morose thoughts this Monday evening with Corinne of EverydayGyaan at #MondayMusings.