Unfortunately, the ritual I attended was a funeral on July 22nd, 2016 for my grandmother Mary Lou. The funeral took place in a Catholic Church that my grandmother had incorporated as a large part of her life. The church itself was very small but ornate, with stained glass windows and a great organ in the back. Large collages of pictures were set up on multiple stands, showing major events in my grandmother’s life as well as all the people she loved. At the end of the aisle was my grandmother in an oak casket and bouquets lined the walls with cards from people expressing their greatest sympathies. Almost everyone was dressed in black, semi-formal, conservative clothing, as is custom. Most of the men wore suits and most of the women had long black dresses. When the priest came out everyone took their seats, signaling the ceremony was about to begin. He asked everyone to join in a traditional Catholic prayer. The sadness in the room was unbearable. My grandfather looked completely lost and defeated. A few of the grandchildren went up to recite some of my grandmother’s favorite bible psalms. Two of us, myself included, broke down crying once up in front and ended up letting someone else speak. The priest then went on to explain that God had shaped my grandmother’s personality, that she was being accepted into Heaven, and explained the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection. We engaged in a small luncheon where everyone was much more cheerful and shared stories. Shortly after we followed the hearse to the graveyard where my grandmother would be buried. My grandfather and a few others took front row seats while the rest of us gathered around. Holy water was shaken around the casket and incense waved around it while the priest sang in Latin. My grandfather was asked if he would like to watch the casket drop and while a few family members contested his decision he was adamant on watching the casket being lowered. I went up with a few others to lift the casket so we could pull the beams out from underneath. Ever so slowly, the casket was lowered into the ground.
While the the way in which funerals are performed vary, funerals are fairly common rituals since death is a rite of passage for everyone. The funeral was very religious, mostly because religion was a large part of my grandmother’s life. It brought everyone together to mourn and to pay respects to my grandmother one last time as well as paying respects to her family. Religion was how my grandmother, the priest, and many others that attended made sense of their place in the world and it is where they got their morals from. My grandmother had a great belief in the supernatural, most of all in God and in angels watching over us. The priest talked about Heaven, which I perceive as a way for us to cope with death, thinking that our loved one will be going to a better place and that we will one day see her again. A few family members mentioned how we have another guardian angel watching over us, reducing our fear and anxiety of the after life. Sharing communion as well as shaking the holy water were ways for the priest to have an influence on supernatural power. He did not believe that he could directly control the power, but instead that we could enlist the help of God by partaking in activities such as praying. He acted as a mediator between us and God.