Loneliness may not end with death. In Lisbon alone the number of welfare funerals accompanied by Irmandade São Roque reaches the hundreds. From homeless people to unclaimed bodies, the funerals are sober and dignified. During some of these ceremonies the priest floods anyone present with a sea of questions about deceased. Cities grow, but despite growth many issues seem to remain unanswered. Bury the dead is an act of human compassion and dignity. A flower, a few words and a huge weight in the eyes of those who watch. According to Irmandade São Roque, “The reasons for adherence vary from chaperone to chaperone, there is always a common point that unites us all, a gesture of compassion, of tenderness, to the one who, at the end of his earthly life, lacked the human warmth of family, friends and of the acquaintances.”
I remember a question from the priest at one particular funeral: “Does anyone know if this sister was baptized?” The answer was silence and with it thousands of questions that lie under the surface.