Some night, however, even though the bombing planes were gone, one would invade my dreams and I would wake up shaking, hiding my head beneath my gray flannel cover.
Two years after the war ended, something I did not plan for happened that left another hole in my heart, when for first time I felt the pain of losing a loved one. My grandfather died. Muslims adhere to specific plans regarding their burial sites. Adherents of different faiths are buried in separate places, while non-Muslims are not buried alongside those of other faiths. My family, though not active in the Muslim religion, participated in the religious reituals following the death of a family member ("Rituals of Death…," p.1).
When my grandfather died, the gravediggers dug him a separate grave for him to be buried separately. The practice of burying one person per grave has changed for some families since that time, however, as recently in Iran, due to increase in the costs of grave lots, to reduce costs, often members of the same family are buried on top of one another. During the burial ceremony, the person's body is taken out of the coffin and placed on the ground. It is then lifted up three times and put back down again. From my grandfather's burial, I remember the following, ongoing traditions observed during the he religious burial:
[the person's body is] placed in the grave. A gravedigger or a member of the family normally is stationed in the pit to position the dead properly according to religious prescriptions. The deceased is placed on his right side facing Mecca. Under his head will be placed a brick and a raw mosaic (khesht e kham). The face will be exposed and part of the kafan covering the face will be placed under head over the brick. Till recently brick walls on each side supported the grave and once the dead was placed in the grave a brick cover would be added on top of the sidewalls to completely cover the dead. Then everything would be covered with soil.
From my grandfather's burial, I remember that the time seemed never ending. I remember wondering about death. I wondered why all the ceremony when my grandfather did not even seem to know or care about what was going on. Today, although the expenses of some of the religious activities prohibit many people from observing former traditions, those who can afford them, continue to adhere to the ceremonies begun centuries ago in our country's past.
Iran only buries its dead during the daylight hours. During the darkness of the night a specific prayer "called Namaz Vahshat (prayer of fear) is performed by close relatives to support the deceased and reduce fear of being dead and having to answer for ones deeds" ("Rituals of Death…," p.1). The tradition, however, Zoroastrian in origin, is only practiced by this particular religious sector. Other Muslims do not observe this particular practice. For all Muslims, albeit, at all times the deceased person's body, as well as his/her grave should face Mecca (Ghebleh). The graves reported should not be marked, per instructions by the Quran, nevertheless the majority of most people do place memorial stones with Quranic verses engraved on the stone at the grave site of their family member. If no stone is position on the grave top, it will sit slightly higher than ground surrounding it. Those who visit the gravesite routinely touch the grave soil and spread a handful of soil over the family member's grave. This represents the notion of "from dust to dust." Family members traditionally sprinkle rose water on the grave of their loved one ("Rituals of Death…," p.1).
I remember when my grandfather died, I did not want to go near his grave. My father, however, told me that I had to go, so I did. I still remember cringing; not wanting to pick up a handful of dirt and place it on my grandfather's grave. Even though I knew Grandpa would not mind, putting dirt on top of him still bothered me.
The thought of death also bothered me, so most of the time I forced myself not to think about it. The memories of the financial struggles our family experienced after the war also sometimes come to bother my mind. After the war, our