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Why People Cry at the Send off of an Elder

I remember the first time I was asked to attend a send off for an elder. I was younger than I am now of course and I really did not understand much of the proceedings. As I remember it was 6 below zero F. and yet people were out side at the grave site. I remember there was a great deal of crying from both men and women. At one point there was a death song sung by a solo singer and the crying became wailing. The emotion was over powering and I began to cry.
Over the past fifty years I have attended many more send offs for both young and old. I have officiated quite a few as well. Over the past few weeks I spent time with an elder in the United Kingdom. The woman is the mother of a family member of mine and has cancer. It is said she has but a few months to live if not weeks.
Over the holiday season I visited with her about her youth and the war. She told me she lived in Liverpool as a young girl moving to London to have a try at a singing career. She was told to scrap that idea and began working for a television network.
Her stories are as robust as any Indigenous person I have spoken to in my life just different.
l have to say that when our elders go, a great deal of history goes with them and that is why so many people cry at a send off for an elder.

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