Siw's homepage

To die alone, is it always a tragedy?

Kristopher Schau: På vegne av venner - Book jacket
Borrowed from Bokkilden

In Norwegian: Norwegian flag

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 not care?

Photo: Edgard Haugnes
Photo: Edgard
Can not be used without permission

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 he 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 too 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 Uncle.

Many thanks to Kristopher Schau, for being there when we could not. We really appreciate that.


Added Desember 4. 2009, updated Dec. 7. 2009