Coffin: (n) a long, narrow box in which a corpse is buried or cremated.

Staring down into the face of my older brother, who was quite dead, lying in a coffin, motionless, with eyes closed.

It freaked me out–mainly because I was staring at the bier. That’s another word for coffin. Now I’m just trying to show off. I tend to do so when I’m nervous. And looking at a coffin made me nervous.

Until that moment, I did not realize that I suffer from claustrophobia. Even though I was supposed to be the strong brother to support my nephew, sister-in-law and all the other relatives, I temporarily had to excuse myself and walk away to try to regain my state of mind.

All I could think about was lying in that coffin, scrunched, and having the lid shut down on my face. Every time that vision came to my brain, my heart started to pound and I found it difficult to breathe.

I was embarrassed.

I wanted to make sure no one observed my panic attack, so I found a private room and stepped inside. Unable to locate a light switch, I stood in the dark, finding no comfort whatsoever from my vision of horror.

Even though I am certain there was nobody in the room with me, I sensed a thought floating across the blackened space, landing in my consciousness. It wasn’t exactly verbalized, but it was very comforting.

The notion translated to my irrational thinking was, “Keep in mind, when you go in the coffin, you don’t have to breathe anymore.”

I laughed. It was so true. By the time I was fitted–or unfitted–for this box, I would be without the need for much of anything.

And of course, if it still freaked me out, they could always burn me up.


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Burial: (n) the action or practice of interring a dead body.

Only twice in my life have I stood at the graveside to observe the burial of a loved one.

On both occasions, I felt neither sadness nor reassurance–sadness over losing the individual, and reassurance that somewhere they were being embraced by delighted angels welcoming them home.

Although I am a believer in God, I find that death is a great deterrent to my faith, and discourages my hope. Because many times I have been at the burial of a bug, a mouse, a cat, a dog or viewed animals slain as I drove on the highway on a summer’s day.

On the two occasions when I was staring at the caskets of dear souls I knew, I couldn’t get over the familiar sensation that swept over my being on seeing a rotting deer on Interstate 40, lying motionless on the berm.

There was no life.

There was no continuation.

There was just an end.

I don’t like burials. They remind me that we are all heading into the ground to turn back into the dust of our alleged beginning. It is difficult to comprehend that such an action could be the first step to eternal life.

Unfortunately for me, it feels like the merciful, necessary disposal of road kill.


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