Art and rituals deepen our understanding and give us a way of being in touch, communicating … even if it’s quite a difficult topic like death. I thought long and hard before finding the right name for my business and chose Kinship Ritual to speak of my approach to relationship and ritual.
Art and Rituals: Condolences
I was at ‘Condolences’. The title was enticing. It’s an old fashioned word, and for me rich in the deadly promise that one will say the right thing and provide comfort. Tomorrow night’s ‘Ageing and mortality’ will be interesting. Can you make it? Conversations always depend on who comes.
I’m accustomed to people getting together to talk about death through Death Cafe, and other public education I’m involved in. I know how important it is for people to feel comfortable and that they’ll be able to speak and be heard.
What’s different about this Cafe is the performance, spoken word – poetry and readings, and music that precede the conversation. Through poetry I tuned in to a Muslim woman’s take on Condolence. I tried out being in the shoes of an organ recipient. I learned about the lineage of kora in Amadou Suso’s family – that it is his ancestral duty to perform his enchanting music. You might have heard him play his large stringed instrument on Triple J, at a dance event, the National Gallery or Deakin Edge.
The piece that rocked me was Sermsah Suri Bin Saad’s dance. You may have seen him perform in Bran New Day, at Fed Square, in the Fringe or on TV. Here in a little theatre in St Kilda was this dancer, painted up, imprinting on us what could not be said in words about being utterly lost. My sense was that there was only desperation; the spark had gone out of life. I felt that everyone in the room was awestruck and leapt into life again when the dancer found himself sufficiently to see out, rise and make connections.
Sorry and culture
So the performances weren’t all about condolence exactly. They gave us art and ritual. In conversation our group spent a long time on the topic of SORRY and how inept Australians are with condolences to Aboriginal people for their great losses. We spoke about words and how people do or don’t say things to people who are bereaved.
We thought about what to do if someone is very reclusive after a death? Some people thought texts were great. But a man in the group who’d lost his father spoke passionately about how sick it made him that people could even think of talking about the loss of his father through a pathetic, stupid phone with texts and how much he’d wanted to throw it away. He was not Anglo.
Yes culture was a big part of our discussion, and at times we asked people to speak in their language because we wanted to hear the sound.