Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cremation or Burial?

I have always wanted to be cremated and my ashes fed to the wind in the middle of the sea. The thought of rotting away entombed in a muddy grave was repugnant to me.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, thats what I wanted.

But after the funeral yesterday, I realised that the choice should not be mine to make but rather the family or loved ones that I leave behind. For my aunt, there really wasn't a choice, they are devout Methodists so cremation is unthinkable for them.

It was the first time I had been to a Christian burial ground. One would think Catholic or Christian it would be the same considering that they are side by side in Ipoh! But I noticed one stark difference; there weren't any candles at the Christian one. Just neat plots with headstones and lots of pretty flowers.

I found myself walking slowly around them looking at the epitaths. And I finally realised why some choose to be buried instead of cremated. Its a visual remembrance, a deep comforting solace for those remaining that as they stand or kneel at the site, the physical substance of their loved one is one with the earth below them.

There still remains a thread of connectivity between the living and the dead on the soil of the ground to remember. Something which ashes in an urn fail to replicate eventhough its the more practical solution these days with land being such a scarce resource.

It was a very moving ceremony at the gravesite yesterday, short and sweet. Unlike Catholic burials that tend to go on and on until you feel like you have lived all your nine lives. However, my uncle was rather unceremoniously lowered into the ground by some inexperienced grave diggers. Instead of resting in peace, he was jolted by quite a loud thud as one of them lost his grip on the rope.

Prayers continued to be said on top of all the shouting between the diggers and as they started closing the grave I noticed with horror that a little frog was desperately trying to climb out! There was no way I could have stopped the ceremony but I just focused on the frog and willed it to get out. After 6 or 7 futile attempts, it finally managed to hop away without being shoveled back in!

Its hard to know that a loved one is now lying cold in a grave but it is comforting that you at least have a place to go to and know that as you dig your fingers into the earth, he or she is still very much connected to this land.


  1. hello there, its me snakeEyes from Msia Fauna.
    nice reading yr blog. on the topic, i would actually like my body cremated and scattered at sea. preferably near corals.

    wonder y u stopped blogging since u write so well. looking forward to yr new posts.

    PS: after readin yr blog, i think tht ur a notty girl tht needs a good spank...sorry , this was a serious blog entry but i just had to get tht off my chest

  2. Ha ha ha...Hi Snakey...thanks for dropping by with your comments. The reason for my more than month long absence will be explained in my next post.

  3. Eyes ; will wait for yr next post .

    i may blog soon too . but it wont be abt me , rather a celebration of my passions in life..or lack of life??? haha