Jamaica Magazine

Hypocritical Burial.

The Christian hymn “Abide with me.”

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

“Abide with me” is composed by the Scottish poet and hymnologists Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) just before his death in 1847. It was completed on the same day as his last sermon to the congregation in his parish church, “All Saints” in Lower Brixham, Devonshire. He went to meet the Lord three weeks later having died of tuberculosis. [Sic]

The above is one of the most popular hymns which is often sang before mourners leave the burial site just as the grave diggers affix the concrete slabs that covers the casket/coffin into oblivion. A place, many in attendance will never return to, except for those who might “go take a look” should they be at that cemetery some other time, or well, not until the death anniversary when love ones might return to weed the spot for those resting in a family plot.

Often amid the gathering at the funeral you will hear comments such as, “Bwoy dem really bury Mass Johnny good (or) him pickney dem really send him off in a fine style.” Yet, quite frequent are circumstances where the decease was hardly the recipient of the benevolence from those who now are the “pall bearers” of the funeral expenses.

In such cases, the chariot drawn million dollar casket and thousand dollar wreaths with “tappa tappa passa passa” nigh night gala are nothing but camouflage shame and a hypocritical burial. Honestly, is this really the right way to repay the kindness, love and dedication of our former care givers? Would it not be better to have spent part of that vast amount of money on the person while they were alive?

The sad reality of some “yardies” abroad is that they migrate and as granny would say, “throw stone behind them.” After few years they don’t bother to “drop a line” back home, more over to pay a visit or send a “thing,” especially during Christmas and Easter times when dependents are really looking forward to receiving a “smalls.”

Though it is a misconception that in Foreign things are easy to come by, many people still have it much better than those back home, especially those ones we left behind that use to change our nappies, feed us cornmeal porridge, steer us down that straight and narrow path, working tirelessly to put pot on the fire, clothes on our backs, roof over our heads and finance the education from now which we earn a healthy living.

Line three of the first verse in “Abide with me” states, “When other helpers fail and comforts flee,” it is in that line the truthful moments of a hypocritical burial comes alive. There in lies the vanity of life, lovelorn in its precarious nature, it’s fleeting joys and glory sought; destine in isolation and deprivation. It is only in his/her Maker that the dying sees the light that “shines through the gloom”.

When gerontology empties its “chamber pot” upon our elders which is just as natural as withering vegetations upon parch land, it is the responsibility, especially of family members/ relatives abroad to provide or assist in the sustenance of care and comfort to the needy.

Giving a luxurious burial while in life depriving, neglecting and despising or “short handing” the person is to do a great injustice to humanity. We must all endeavor to help ease the hardship, misery and suffering of others and particular to them who depends on us. Appreciation to the living is to be much more meaningful and worthy than to shower the dead with what they were denied in life. ( Love and care).

“Well, if noh cup noh bruck noh coffee noh spill, so who the cap fit mek dem wear it…Zeen”…( Jamaican Idioms.)

Last verse of “Abide with me.”

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

About the author

Kharl Daley