When I die, I want a party – in true Caribbean style

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A report by Dreda Say Mitchell for London’s Guardian.

Generations ago, when someone passed on after reaching their biblical threescore years and ten, there was no sense that anything tragic had occurred. These days, 70 is starting to look like an early death. Perhaps this explains why there’s so much confusion about the age at which a death seems part of the natural order of things, and what level of mourning is appropriate.

A vicar recently told me that he’s become fed up with relatives weeping and wailing at the funerals of the very aged, but there’s no real reason why losing someone at 90 should be any less painful. In fact, if they’ve been part of your life for so much longer, it might even be worse.

It’s a truism that everyone deals with partings in their own way – and for some, that’s quiet reflection or silent goodbyes. Many find the eating, drinking and dancing at a Caribbean funeral, like the one I went to recently, too up-tempo for their tastes. But that’s merely one way of asserting a belief in life over death. As long as mourning is genuine, it shouldn’t really matter. Personally, when it’s my time to join the dearly departed, I want colour, music and life all around me.

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