I have just returned from a funeral. It was a first for me as the entire service was in Punjabi. It was a Hindu ceremony and although I didn't understand a single word, one thing was abundantly clear - grief is the same in any language.
The reason I went is because the deceased is the father of one of my 7 yr old students. I lost my father as a teenager and I remember very clearly how much it meant that some from my school attended the funeral. They were there for me. Only for me, not for the rest of my family and it meant so much. And despite the cultural differences (my friend and I were the only non-Hindus there) I am glad I went. This student actually broke out of the departure line and came to see me. The woman with her said she wanted to see Mrs. Alward. This girl's brother was also very appreciative - he is in his 20's and so obviously dotes on his baby sister. I think he was glad that someone was there for her, and he told me yesterday he was so glad that her teacher and I were watching out for her at school.
The ceremony was very respectful and sacred and I honestly believe that if more people viewed other cultures and religions with respect and an open mind, this world might be a very different place.
And even though I understood not one word, the sadness in that chapel didn't need to be spoken.