Several weeks ago I had the privilege to do a graveside ceremony for a person for whom I knew almost nothing about. The only information I was given ahead of time was the name and age of the deceased. No other details. No family members or friends sharing fond memories or the telling me the story of his life.
You see, the body of this individual had not been claimed. In Ontario, Social Services agencies refer these cases to a local funeral provider and arrangements are made to care for placing the body in its final resting place. Whether there was simply no family left, or the family was not financially able to handle the arrangements I don’t know.
I wondered about the life this person lived - about his childhood, his first romance. Was his life filled with adventure or did he stay close to home? Did he have friends that drifted apart as the years went by? Did he suffer? Was he lonely? What made him laugh?
These are things that I will likely never find out. I will never know the story of this life and all the other lives that may have been touched through this individual.
But it was truly an honour and a privilege to give this person the dignity of a beautiful graveside ceremony and a proper burial.
There were only five of us gathered around the grave - the Funeral Director, his assistants and myself, as we said farewell to the friend we never knew.