A few days ago, a lady called Maria died. She was the grandmother of Mercedes, a lovely teenager who comes to our church. Neil, Sophia and I attended to support Mercedes, although we didn't know her 'abuela.' She had thyroid cancer and it sounded as if her last days were difficult as there is not provision for palliative care in Peru. As well as wanting to support members of our church community, it was also an interesting experience to see how the funeral was conducted. I had a little insight earlier that week, as my Spanish teacher took me to a huge cemetery in Cusco, where people aren't buried in the ground, but placed in a concrete wall, several 'storeys' high. Also, Maria was buried less than a day after she died, which is very typical. I explained to my teacher that there is often a gap of a week or two between a death and funeral, and he said 'Why? To pray?', which I thought was an interesting observation.
The funeral itself was lovely, with Pastor Scott leading an address, before driving to the cemetery. This was a very different experience, as the coffin was placed on a pick-up trick, not a hearse. The 'burial' was also very different, as the coffin is cemented into a wall, rather than placed in a ground. However, although there were differences, there was still a sense of grief, as well as thanksgiving, just the same as funerals in the UK.