Thursday, 12 January 2012

Keeping Going

If anything makes me want to give up spirituality and just have a quiet life consisting of TV and board games, it's complications in life. When I have a routine, it's not so difficult. I can even make myself get up at 6am most mornings to meditate etc, as long as it's a regular thing I can fit into my regular life. Not when things are complicated. Especially not when they're very difficult.

We've just had a very complicated, difficult four weeks (or so) in this family. The Girl's father died on Christmas Day, after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. I joined her in Israel for the shiva - a Jewish tradition where people come to the house of the bereaved for seven days. It is utterly exhausting. I have an autistic spectrum condition - I don't say this as an excuse, but as an explanation - and spending any amount of time with people can be hard work. Constant exposure to people I don't know, in a not-very-accessible house, for twelve hours a day, for seven days, was utterly exhausting. Which is a very 'me me me' response to the situation, but that was how I felt. I'm not going to pretend I'm better than I am, or that I was a fantastic supportive wife and was completely there for my Girl. I am not and I was not. I found it very difficult. The Girl ended up supporting me more than the other way around. She says it was still helpful to have me around. I hope that's true.

If I have to go without praying and meditating for any length of time, my brain tends to explode, under the best of circumstances. Under the worst, it's difficult. I did manage to do some meditating every day, but I missed my rituals so much. (This was actually a good thing to experience. My druidry and other Pagan practices are becoming integrated into my spiritual life, which is great. I want it all to be seamless, though. I'd also like to be less affected by other people's emotions in these kinds of circumstances. I think anyone would be, but I was literally disabled by it for most of the week. I often am. Much to learn.) But I meditated, and my gods were there.

All of that said, I can see the value of something like a shiva. Everyone in the family said they appreciated it while simultaneously hating it. We don't have much in the way of rituals in the post-Christian UK. If you follow a religion (which only applies to a minority of people here), you do what that religion does in relation to death. Western Christianity just sort of stops after the funeral, though. We don't have many traditions associated with bereavement. I feel like ritual around death must be even more lacking for Humanists and atheists, although that's probably a misperception from my lack of understanding of those belief/non-belief contexts. But it seems like there's less and less for the growing 'no religion' group to do around key moments in life. How do Pagan communities meet to celebrate life and remember the dead? I don't mean the long-dead ancestors, I mean people who died last week. Are there funeral structures? I honestly don't know. My wedding was Christian. I wonder what my funeral will be like.