The #1 Reason I Struggle With Funerals in China | Speaking of China

24 Responses

  1. Tiffany
    Tiffany October 31, 2016 at 10:25 am | | Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and glad that no one ended up hospitalized due to observing this custom! Hope you all are doing well in the wake of losing Jun’s grandmother.

  2. Ryan
    Ryan October 31, 2016 at 11:09 am | | Reply

    唵嘛呢叭咪吽!

    E mi tuo fo…

    Peace, love and compassion from us.

  3. Marta
    Marta October 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm | | Reply

    I’m so sorry for your loss! I know you loved Grandma, you wrote about her in several articles. May she rest in peace.

    I have never been to a funeral in China but when I visited Vietnam there was a funeral just across the street from our hostel… there was funeral music from early in the morning until late at night several days in a row!

  4. Marissa
    Marissa October 31, 2016 at 11:02 pm | | Reply

    I’m sorry for your and Jun’s loss. It sounds as though you have many fond memories of Grandma to help you and Jun through the grieving process. Hugs from the Great Plains

  5. gordon chung
    gordon chung November 1, 2016 at 2:12 am | | Reply

    sorry to hear about your loss. when i stayed in a small town last year, there happened to be a funeral close to the guest house i stayed in. like Marta experienced in Vietnam, this went on for several days !!!! if there is one thing that the Chinese should change, it is the funeral, make it short and fast, like here in North America.

  6. Marion
    Marion November 1, 2016 at 3:50 am | | Reply

    Through your blog Grandma touched many lives. She would have been amazed. May she rest in peace. Sorry for your loss.

  7. Mary
    Mary November 1, 2016 at 11:46 pm | | Reply

    I’m very sorry for your loss Jocelyn.. I think it’s wonderful you became so close to Jun’s grandmother, and even learned the dialect for her…!!! That is truly impressive.

    Wow, Chinese funerals sound a lot like Chinese weddings (second hand smoke and decadent, non-vegetarian seafood galore), but the shouling thing… wow. That blows my mind. I imagine that it’s not only a physical battle, but also a mental one too. If I had to accompany the coffin of a loved one at the peak of the mourning stage, I would be a mess. Is there cultural background to shouling? Is it to protect the spirits as they pass, or something?

    All I can say is: 辛苦了! I hope you and Jun are doing ok!

  8. Autumn
    Autumn November 2, 2016 at 1:21 am | | Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss. Grandmothers are special, and I am awed that you learned an entire dialect for her. Surely she was touched. (Also, I feel like a slacker granddaughter-in-law now.)

    Funeral are bad enough even when they are short. Truly, a Chinese funeral sounds like an ordeal. I hope you and your family can manage a modicum of self care during trying times.

    I’d be interested in a post on the reason behind some of the customs, though. Cuz right now it sort of sounds like a funeral’s aim is to beget more funerals!

  9. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen November 2, 2016 at 11:06 am | | Reply

    Most of us aren’t involved in funerals very often, so when a family member dies, we’re overcome with sorrow and the only thing to do is to fall back on tradition. I think that’s why customs hang on for so long.

    One fairly universal purpose of a funeral is for the family to show the value of the deceased’s life. In the West we do that by turnout at the funeral and by remembering him in a positive light with one or many eulogies. In China, it seems that not only turnout at the funeral is important but also all the food and drinks and fireworks. It shows that this day is unlike normal days because someone important to us has passed away.

    I’ve read that the original reason the Irish watched over the body and prayed for the soul of the deceased from the time of death until the casket left for the burial was to watch for signs of life.

    My husband’s great grandfather was a very rich man who made his fortune in the Philippines and died there. He had only one son, who took his father’s body back to his village in China and stayed near the grave (according to my husband) for six years, according to custom. While he was away, the godson acquired the name and the wealth of the dead man, and my husband’s grandfather stayed in China and devoted himself to studying for the Chinese civil service exams and becoming a Mandarin. So this was a funeral custom that led to the loss of his fortune.

  10. Miriam
    Miriam November 2, 2016 at 12:49 pm | | Reply

    I’m really sorry to hear about your Grandmother – she sounded like a wonderful woman. Please look after yourselves at this time!

    I haven’t been to a Chinese funeral yet but that tradition sounds very Chinese. It’s a lovely way to show respect and love to the deceased but very hard on the living (at an especially difficult time when sleep may be difficult at the best of times).

    It seems similar to other aspects of the culture where a good family holiday is to climb a mountain for 5+ hours until people are so exhausted they can’t walk anymore. Very dissimilar to the UK where it seems that self-care and comfort are prioritized.

    I hope that your mother-in-law especially is coping okay. Chinese parents and children always appear so close that a loss like this must be hard to come to terms with.

  11. Traveller at heart
    Traveller at heart November 5, 2016 at 1:05 am | | Reply

    I’m terribly sorry to hear of your loss. Look after yourself, Jocelyn. You have been a a great DIL to Jun’s family.

  12. Henry Yeh
    Henry Yeh November 5, 2016 at 4:25 am | | Reply

    It’s said that losing a loved one will take a piece of us away, until we have nothing left & cease to exist ourselves.

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