First Experience with Death
I experienced death in Iraqi Kurdistan and Richmond, Indiana. There are differences and similarities between the ways of treatment of death by two cultures. At the same time, the two distinct communities have opposing ideas about the fate of the dead after life.
My first death experience was in the Indiana State of America, Richmond. I was playing football, and out of sudden, I head from a friend that two students had been killed in a car crash. Dead persons were Pema and Mark. After we had heard this sad news, we immediately stopped playing and started asking questions. We wanted to find out the details of the unfortunate accident and finally realized that it was true that two of them had been gone. It was a little hard to believe that they were dead. I was extremely saddened by the loss of the students. I felt shocked and could not even eat dinner at that night. While I was watching TV, one of the students came to me and said that she was sorry about what had happened today. I felt even worse after that.
On the same night, most of the students gathered outside. They were standing in a big circle with each person holding a candle. No one was talking, but some were crying silently. Anyone could join without saying anything. As the time went by, the circle became bigger and bigger. Later, people started leaving until there was no one left.
The day after, a lot of people gathered at a Quakers’ meeting house. Most of them seated and remained silent. First, our teacher got up and started talking about Mark and Pema. After that, another person made a small speech about them. Even students did the same. Most of the things they mentioned in their speeches were about what they had experienced with Mark and Pema. For example, my teacher said that she was extremely saddened when she heard about this accident. She further stated that both guys were great persons and had a special place in the community. One of the students said that “I have no words to describe how saddened I am. I had a lot of great memories with them. I was in the forest with Pema, and we were fishing in a small pool. We caught a huge fish, and I said we should take it home and make a dinner from it. Pema said no and that we should let the fish free. He was a kind-hearted person. I feel we have lost a great friend and a valuable member of our community. I will always remember him.” Most people were saying similar things, mostly praising them and talking about experiences they had (“Quaker Funeral Traditions,” n.d.).
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The burial took place immediately after the meeting. Most of the people who had attended the latter came to the ceremony. The service was quite short. An elder started reading a poem. After that, there was a movement of silence. The memorial service ended with shaking hands (“Quaker Funeral Service Rituals,” 2016).
The way in which my community deals with death is quite different from how Quakers in America treat it. When a person dies, the one is first taken to a mosque where people start to wash the corpse. After the shower, they cover the body with a white material called coffin. Afterwards, people take it to the main hall of the mosque. Mullah calls everyone to pray for the deceased. Prayers are different from usual ones, and people pray while standing. After it, they head for the graveyard to bury the corpse. Everyone helps to dig for the dead. People believe they can receive forgiveness from God by being helpful. Before they put the corpse in the grave, Mullah retells what happens after a person dies. Then, he specifically talks about how the dead is going to be dealt by angels. Mullah says that the latter first ask what he or she did for God at a young age. He further states that if the person is free of sins, he or she will have a very comfortable living after death. The memorial service ends with everyone reading a verse from the Quran. After the burial is over, people are gathered in a mosque to drink tea and share some moments of silence. The meeting can take several days. It is usually held for people to be able to visit relatives of the deceased (Turkish Cultural Foundation, n.d.).
There are some particular changes I have made in my life as a result of these experiences. For example, the latter made me think that death is real and would come one way or the other. Learning this fact urged me to try new things in life. As it is confirmed that death comes quicker than people think, I have done my best to live my life to the fullest.
In conclusion, whether people like it or not, death is their part. There is no escaping from it. It is interesting to note that Quakers tend to celebrate and are happy at the ceremony, while it is perceived very negatively in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdish people usually wear black and do not watch TV for months to come. On the contrary, Quakers tend to celebrate the life that the individual lived. They do not wear black clothes, but listen to the music and try to be happy rather than sad.