September 26, 2023

About 13 years in the past, I had an expertise that was transformative for me. I used to be on the island of Yap in distant Pacific Micronesia, and I requested if there have been a significant life occasion — a wedding, funeral, or celebration for a child’s start — that I is likely to be allowed to attend. Locals sighed and mentioned that there was no occasion like that going down.

Dissatisfied, I returned to my lodge room, and the subsequent day there was a knock on the door. The supervisor mentioned there was a funeral boat going to the island of Mog Mog, and we have been booked for it. Only some individuals had been to Mog Mog inside the previous couple of years, and I used to be grateful to be a fly on the wall for this important time in an individual’s life.

Thankfully, one of many island males translated for me as we sat exterior the hut the place the funeral observances have been going down. First, there was ritualized mourning. The sound of wailing was very transferring and lasted for some time.

Then, individuals began to speak concerning the deceased. The translator was very matter-of-fact as he informed me what the mourners have been saying. They informed the reality concerning the man who had handed. They shared good issues about him, and sort issues he had accomplished. However I used to be shocked to be taught that additionally they spoke truthfully and overtly, in entrance of the entire group, concerning the shadow aspect of the departed. A few of it was fairly severe, and I had by no means earlier than encountered such transparency at a funeral. I requested my translator if this was a standard observe, and he mentioned sure. It was psychologically wholesome for the individuals who had been harm or harmed to talk their reality, and share with the group what their expertise was. It was even essential for the person who had died to have the reality spoken about him, and the way he behaved in life. It honored the reality of his existence.

“However,” my translator mentioned, “as soon as the individual is buried within the floor, it’s not spoken of once more.”

My thoughts was spinning. I had skilled funerals of individuals I knew and funerals for public figures the place the deceased was described as one thing near a saint. The individual was often depicted as sort, good, useful to individuals, completed; the departed was a loyal member of the family, beneficiant, fascinated about others, and unfold love. In nearly all circumstances, the lionization felt unreal to me. My emotions concerning the deceased have been usually fairly completely different, and never so flattering. Was this truth-telling a very good factor?

Once I returned to the U.S., I used to be at a celebration and I shared my Mog Mog expertise with the company. They gathered round, listened attentively, after which a number of of them mentioned they wouldn’t thoughts being eulogized like that. They started to speak about it amongst themselves.

I considered it some extra, after which wrote about it in my ebook, Life is a Journey: The Transformative Magic of Journey. I used to be extraordinarily moved and shocked by the outpouring of curiosity in that chapter. Readers contacted me and mentioned they at all times felt uncomfortable about sanctifying individuals who had handed. A few of them mentioned they would come with autopsy truth-telling into their wills or needs. They usually thought that the psychological good thing about breaking the barrier of silence about what individuals had suffered and struggled with was very therapeutic.

I’ve by no means forgotten that Mog Mog expertise. And whether or not it’s public or non-public, at a funeral, with associates, or in a therapist’s workplace, truth-telling about one’s expertise appears to me to be a significant cease on the highway to restore for previous struggling.

When my time comes to depart the earthly plain, I ponder what individuals will say about me.