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At funerals now, when there's no hands to squeeze and hair to stroke and cheeks to kiss - we make our own rituals

Ciara O’Connor


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Funeral mass

Funeral mass

Funeral mass

Their mother had been in Clare for months, doing the caring. So brother and sister, my old, old friends, were alone together when the news came that their grandmother was gone; there was no question of travelling to the funeral or seeing family. What can you do with death without a body, community, rituals - those first prescriptions for loss? No one was sure. I think we all felt there should be a real adult in charge, someone born before the 1990s.

They live 400 metres from me. On the day of the funeral, I came in the back gate, Hannah was at the other end of the garden: we looked at each other and smiled a smile that was also an apology, eyebrows furrowed. Hands, useless, flapped up and down before the intuitive theatre of the corona self-hug: hugging ourselves tightly, tricking our nervous systems.


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