Monday, November 20, 2017

Sunday: Funerals and Tea

Cat Silhouette Pillow

Daughter made the above decorative pillow as part of her birthday gift to one of her friends, yesterday.  I told her I wanted one, too. 

Today, I attended the "celebration of life" gathering for the family friend who passed away a week ago.  My cousin and her daughter offered me a ride to the event and back, which was much appreciated.  There must have been at least 200 people at the event.  It was held in one of the reception rooms in a hotel.  This was the first time I had been to such a "celebration of life" event held at a hotel, although I had heard of them.  More often than not, our custom has been to go to the home of the deceased person and enjoy a special pot-luck type of meal, with everyone bringing food. 

That is what I did when my mother died - I invited everyone home, afterwards.  The temple, family, and friends helped to organize the meal as the custom is to refrain from cooking in the house from the time of the death until this special meal is prepared (generally, people bring food to the house, during this period, so that the mourning family doesn't need to cook).  We call this first meal after the funeral "mala bath", which, when translated literally, means "death rice".

This is one of the very few times that pumpkin curry will be served at the same time as a dry fish curry.  Usually, these two curries are not served at the same meal.  I don't know why that is, though.  I didn't have any dry fish curry at my mother's funeral, as the friend who had volunteered to bring the dry fish curry didn't bring it!  I remember one of my other friends being very upset about the lack of dry fish curry!  So much so that I asked one of the monks if it was still considered a "mala bath" if the dry fish curry wasn't there; he was quick to reassure me, saying that dry fish curry wouldn't be served in a vegetarian household.  We aren't vegetarian, but what he said made a lot of sense to me, so, I was comforted.

Although it is customary to have everyone come to the house for the funeral meal, I can see the advantage of having it at another facility.  First and foremost, one doesn't have to clean and tidy the house!  Or make arrangements to accommodate everyone and set up tables and chairs for all, etc.  And, afterwards, there is no cleaning up and putting away of leftovers, etc. 

I invited my cousin over to have tea with me after we came home from the celebration of life.  We drank tea and chatted about various things for about an hour or so. 

Daughter had gone out with her friend whose birthday it was.  They've been best friends since 7th grade.  After she came home, we spent a pleasant evening sitting and chatting.  She's feeling much better, today.  I was telling her about some of our funeral customs, for although she's been to a few, she doesn't know all the details (she was only 12 when her grandmother died and not too involved with the arrangements, although she delivered a beautiful eulogy that she had written by herself).  I told her that I wanted her to know certain things so that when the time came for her to arrange my funeral, she'll know what to do (although, hopefully, the monks at the temple will guide her).  

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter feeling better
- Cousin giving me a ride to the celebration of life
- Having cousin over to tea
- Chatting with my cousin and, later, with daughter
- Having a jacket with me at the reception, because it was so cold in the room

Tomorrow, I will go to my doctor's appointment in the morning.  I need to do a little shopping in the afternoon - I need a new cistern for the toilet, some flea prevention medication for Dancer, and see if a new stock of sugar has arrived at the one store which gave me a rain check for it a week ago.

How was your Sunday?  Did you have a good day?  What are your plans for the week?


  1. Sorry to hear about the death of your friend but how lovely to read about your customs. I think ritual is important in times of sadness as it helps the bereaved to progress towards coming to terms.
    A toilet cistern and flea medication - what exciting shopping!!

    1. I lead such an exciting life that even my shopping is exciting, isn't it? :D Maybe I'll even add some light bulbs and make it even more exciting! ;)

  2. I can understand having a 'Celebration of Life' event at a hotel or large hall as not many homes can comfortably accommodate 200 guests for repast.
    Not wanting to be morbid but it would be helpful to write some notes for the things you believe important for final service. Our mom left no instruction, passed after a few days of illness and we were all horribly upset and woefully unprepared.

    I wondered if you've heard of 'Receipt Hog.' It was discussed earlier today, on a financial site I participate in. Your interest in frugality and photos of receipts combine in my mind to mention Google for details as my knowledge is nil.

    1. Hon, yes, 200 guests will be difficult to accommodate in a house. I had 100 guests at my daughter's 1st birthday party (1st birthdays are a big deal for us), but I have a fairly large back yard.

      No notes will be necessary. Daughter knows I will want a Buddhist funeral and, yesterday, I also told her to make sure that there will be plenty of food for everyone, afterwards. The exact details don't matter to me - I'll be dead!

      No, I haven't heard of Receipt Hog; thank you for mentioning it! I looked it up, per your recommendation. Apparently it is a marketing data research site where one submits pictures of ones receipts through their app and gets paid for them! I passed along the information to my daughter and she has already downloaded the app! She will benefit more from it than I, I think. She, too, says thank you to you. :)

  3. How sad to have a friend pass away. Where I live there are many different arrangements after a death, some religious, some completely secular celebrations of the person's life. I attended one of these on Friday at the chapel in the local funeral home. It was particularly well done as no one spoke for too long and it was interesting to learn of the life of the deceased. The funeral meal was elsewhere and I did not attend, as I had just wanted to pay my respects to the family. It was the third funeral I had been to in 8 days!

    This afternoon I saw a beautiful pileated woodpecker which flew onto the trunk of our tamarack tree. With the snowy surroundings, he looked superb with his red head. We have about 4 or 5 inches of snow, so winter is here. It is beautiful, but needs to stay where I can see it but not have to deal with it too much! Fortunately the roads are kept well cleared.

    1. Bushlady, I am sorry to read that you had to attend so many funerals in such a short period of time! I've heard that deaths come in three's, so, hopefully, there won't be any more for some time to come.

      The woodpecker would have been a lovely sight! It certainly sounds like winter has arrived, up there! Down here, we are having summer, again! In the 80s, with a high of 90F forecast for Thursday! Wintry landscapes are beautiful, but best viewed from inside a warm house while sipping a nice, warm drink, I think! Keep warm and watch out for slippery patches of ice!


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