I attended the funeral of a stranger some years ago.
A colleague of mine had died and, once his service was over, I wasn’t in the mood to leave. So I wandered over to where some other people were gathering to mourn the passing of a person I had never met.
No one asked who I was. No one assumed I didn’t actually know the person who had died. And why would they?
Standing there among the strangers in grief, I, too, found myself thinking about the man in the casket. I listened to the eulogies and recited silent words in prayer for those he’d left behind. I stood in solidarity with those both present and departed.
The truth is that I’ve always been one to attend the funerals of people I don’t know very well (or at all). I used to do it all the time. I understand that funerals can be excruciating. But I also understand that my presence isn’t one that radiates a great deal of emotion. I’d like to think that my presence at these services is helpful to those left behind.
Although I never speak to them or engage in any way, I try to give back by soaking in as much grief-stricken energy as I can and replacing it with peace. As a sociopath it’s always been hard for me to connect with people. But this is one way that I try.
For those surrounding me in mourning, there is no escape. Every expression reflects sympathy. Every face reflects their grief – except mine. I’m a silent witness. A transient supporter. My only goal is to offer relief.
It’s typical for me to linger at the cemetery after a funeral, sometimes for hours. But not that day. I was late for a date. So I waited until everyone else had gone and then I began my race to the car. It had started to rain so I took off my shoes to make better time.
Looking back on it, I realize I must have looked like a lunatic that night as I sprinted through the gates of the cemetery. But I had lost track of time and was determined to make it up to the man who was waiting for me. So off I went racing through the streets of LA, my hair wet, a black veil across my face, and flowers in hand on loan from the dead.