Sunday, 29 December 2013
So its no surprise that those who we loved who have passed away are perhaps ignored by many in daily life.
That's one of the things I love in Finland: that is not the case. Christmas is the time to spend not only with your living relatives but to spare a thought for those who have passed before us.
A visit to the cemetery in Finland on Christmas eve shows that the place is alive with people (who out of human dignity, I didn't wish to capture in these images) paying their respects to their loved family members.
Lives are important, even the lives of ones who no longer are among us.
So the hautausmaa is not a dark and desolate place in Finland at christmas. Everyone comes to light a candle (often a long burning one which can survive some snow and sleet for up to 60 hours) and remember those who lived who they loved.
And it is not restricted to those who only have living relatives. For all Finns who have lived and died are remembered. For many still remember the lives lost in WW2.
I am sure that here in Finland the people still know that everyone who lived and died has not just vanished from memory, at the very least they remain alive in the hearts and memories of those who remain in this world. Most people here believe in life after death. Most certainly it is not life as we know it, but its probably not just lights out as is the popularised line.
My own dear wife has passed before me, which is intensely sad for me and her family. She may not be here with us, but she is not forgotten.
Her life matters to me. She lived and I live in hope that her existence remains somewhere.