Funeral Blues

Auntie Beth died suddenly. Coronary thrombosis gives no warning. Driving to the funeral home, people on the sidewalks and in cars were happy, laughing, and enjoying life. “Don’t you know what a sad day this is?” I wanted to scream. “Can’t you see my grief?”

Any attempt to find words to express feelings related to the sudden loss of a loved one is futile since there are no words that can handle this moment in anyone’s life.

In the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, Matthew (John Hannah) and his partner Gareth (Simon Callow) are enjoying a festive wedding reception when Gareth suffers a heart attack and dies.

At the funeral, Matthew’s eulogy to Gareth is heart-wrenching. I began this post saying there are no words to express the sadness of sudden loss; but, W. H. Auden proves me wrong. Through Matthew, Auden captures the feelings of devastating loss in his poem, “Funeral Blues.”

With Gareth’s death, Matthew’s joy and his reason for living are gone. His loss is both public and private. He feels the world should acknowledge his pain and share his grief. “Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead / Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead, / Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves, / Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.” At the same time, Matthew’s loss is intensely personal. “He was my North, my South, my East and West, / My working week and my Sunday rest.”

No one but the bereaved can understand or feel the intensity of such sorrow, “For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

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