The Stages of Good-bye

In the Orthodox tradition that we maintained even in the Soviet times when nobody remembered the religious aspects of these rituals, there are three stages to saying good-bye to the departed loved one.

There’s a funeral, followed by a pominki. Pominki is a gathering where people eat, drink without clinking their glasses, and remember the departed person. It lasts for hours, people come in and out, there are tons of food, and it all happens on the day of the funeral.

Then, we visit the grave and have a gathering on the ninth day of the death.

And then the final big gathering is on the fortieth day of the death. There’s a service, a visit to the cemetery, and a big meal for friends and relatives.

I’m going home today but I’ll be back in Canada for the fortieth day rituals. Of course, the rituals are for the living and not the departed. And they do help. It’s not easy to organize a pominki, so instead of spending the day of the funeral weeping in the corner, you run around doing stuff, and it helps space out the weeping.

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