To die alone, is it always a tragedy?
Kristopher Schau has written a touching, earnest and a bit
witty book about funerals where nobody shows up. It's only available in
Norwegian, and I deeply recommend it. I read about it in my newspaper, Dagsavisen.
The article told among other things, about a 74 years old man, who had
been dead in his apartment for three months before he was found.
I asked myself if it could be Uncle. He was "only" 72, but the
other details fitted. I asked the reporter who got me in touch with
Schau. Schau called me and asked to meet me and I accepted.
I will not deny that I was a bit nervous. What would he think
about a family that not only did not understand that something was
wrong, but didn't show up in the funeral. It's not exactly that Uncle
died with no living relatives and friends.
There's a lot of ideas about how tragic it is when somebody
dies alone, not to mention when they get buried all alone. What kind of
cruel world let that happen? I would like to illustrate it here.
Why was Uncle dead so long in his apartment? Why did none of
us show up in his funeral? Are we that cruel and selfish? And did we
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Uncle was a sick man, how sick we didn't know before too late.
And he was a very determined man. He had made it perfectly clear that
wanted to take contact when he wanted, not the other way around. That
didn't happen so often, only 3-4 times a year. We were afraid that
pushing would lead to no contact at all. Me, he did not want to talk to
at all. I respected that and heard about him from my cousins. Right
before Christmas last year, one of my cousins visited Uncle, she
helped him with his clothes and cleaned his apartment. That's why
nobody expected Uncle to be in touch before spring or summer.
When Uncle was found dead, nobody contacted us. Because of a
flaw, he was registered without relatives. We didn't know anything
until we were told about the death notice in a newspaper. Then it was
late, the funeral was already carried out, that is, the sepulchral urn
was not actually buried. One cousin took care of the
process. She wanted his wish to be buried with his parents, in the
graveyard in Ski, to be carried out. We gathered there the day in
August the sepulchral urn was moved. Afterwards we had a reception. We
gathered his sister, 5 nieces, some with partners, 1 nephew, 1 uncle, 3
cousins, some friends and remote relatives. Then we had the chance to
do what we needed: Talk about all the good things we remembered about
Many thanks to Kristopher Schau, for being there when we could
not. We really appreciate that.