As many of you know, I am half Ghanaian. I have a father who lives in Ghana and he has been here for the past couple of years. His mother, my Grandmother, lived in this country for her entire life. I had never met her before. She was 105 years old on the Sunday that I arrived. I had planned to visit her on the following Saturday. On Tuesday of that week, June 3rd, I received the news that she had passed away. I was extremely disappointed that I would never get to meet her, especially since I was so close to finally being able to.
In the Ghanaian tradition, there are two ceremonies in honor of the deceased. The first is the “one week celebration” and the second is the actual funeral. The funeral is normally held 2-3 months after the person has died, to give family members the opportunity to gather the funds to travel and contribute to the ceremony. The funeral for my grandmother will be held in October of this year, unfortunately, I won’t be able to come back because I will be taking classes. Luckily, I was able to attend my grandmothers “one week celebration.” It was a happy celebration full of food, people, drinking and dancing. I quickly realized that Ghanaians do not mourn in the same way that Americans do. They choose to celebrate the life of the individual and only focus on the days that they had spent on this earth. I found this to be quite an interesting contrast. Everyone was dressed in black, with red accents in their clothing and people brought monetary gifts to give to the family of the deceased. They also cooked a lot of food to share with everyone who came to pay their respects. Surprisingly, the way that they celebrated made me feel happier than American funerals ever have.