On the way back from the supermarket just now, I found out the mother of the owner of a local kidswear boutique passed away yesterday. The funeral service will be held in the local church tomorrow morning. I know the family, and was able to send my condolences.
This is the seventh death that has entered my life in the past two months, including my own mother’s. The wave has made me think about the protocol of death and how western funeral rites – the frenzy of the guest list, the catering, the video and flowers and so on – are basically designed to take one’s mind off what just happened. It delays your grief, which is perhaps not a bad thing.
Some years ago my mother got together with a bunch of her girlfriends over morning coffee. They each composed a letter of intent entitled ‘I am sorry I am dead’ – a sort of wish list to let family members know how they wanted their funerals to be. I am glad she did. We found out, amongst other things, that she wanted to be buried (being a Buddhist, we all presumed she would have preferred a cremation) which of the local funeral directors she wanted to take care of things and that she had a preference for an eco-coffin.
We probably would have gone for that anyway, but didn’t expect to be able to purchase a sleek white model made of recycled cardboard. Unlike wooden coffins, which are much more expensive, you can personalise these with your artwork or notes. Mum’s was plastered with kid’s drawings before it went into the ground.