Several people told me at the burial that before hearing of Nicholas’s death but after it had happened, they had disturbing dreams, feelings or premonitions that something was wrong. As if there were a tug on a non-physical level between Nicholas and themselves.

I have experienced similar tugs several times in my life (though not from Nicholas), and I think that there are psychic or spiritual links between us that occasionally show themselves like this in moments of crisis, or sometimes of deep joy. Together they form a skein, invisible but no less real.

At funerals or burials when groups of us come together to enact the rite of passage, it is a special occasion for all of us. Yesterday that silent walk in the woods behind the coffin where you could feel and hear the soft footsteps on the woody path, and hear the birdsong filtering through the trees from the meadow. Or when we gathered in the meadow and people talked to the group about Nicholas. Or when the graveside words were over and we each scattered our piece of earth onto the lowered flower-covered coffin, the physical finality.

These are occasions when the links are strengthened or formed afresh, the invisible skein that holds us together and that we ourselves will pull on in moments of special joy, sadness, or when the time comes finally to split.

In certain Buddhist schools of thought, death is a drawn-out event that starts at the moment of the body’s death and takes about 7 weeks for the dissolution of the spirit to be complete – followed by reincarnation of the life force (and very rarely, of the personality).

In Nicholas’s case, the burial was on the 14th day of death and his spirit still has another 5 weeks to complete its departure and return to the void. That’s why the thoughts, good wishes, prayers, whatever, directed toward him are so important, because they may yet be able to help his spirit pass on.

And in case this provokes in you ideas of superstition, take only what has meaning for the living: that the skein that holds us all together has been strengthened once more.