Chinese Funeral Customs

My father passed away in the hospital this past Friday.  He was in the hospital for the past month after falling ill suddenly.  I think we’re still in shock that he’s gone.  All of us wanted to believe that he would recover as he has always been a very strong and healthy man.  My father had not been feeling 100% for the past half-year but ignored the warning signs and didn’t feel the need to see the doctor for his symptoms.  He was jogging and working as usual almost until the day he went to the ER.  We’ve set up a little altar for my dad which is composed of incense, flowers, tea and food.  Every time we’re about to eat, we put a little in a bowl and put it on the altar for my dad to eat in the afterlife.

It’s been quite hectic since he’s passed away as we are really busy trying to take care of all the arrangements.   In addition to the customary viewing at the funeral home and then the burial at the cemetery, we have the Chinese memorial service the day prior at home.  The Chinese memorial service goes from morning until after midnight.  The house is open for all friends and family to drop by to pay their respects.  We will be burning incense and other things to make sure that my dad finds his way home and has everything that he needs in the afterlife.  These things include prayers, fake money, a paper car, etc.  There will be a lot of chanting, banging of instruments, and wailing to show our grief.  The wailing is actually quite unnatural so a lot of times professional wailers are hired.  There will also be a lot of cooking as lunch and dinner will be served to everyone.  Instead of wearing black, we will be wearing a white cloth outfit with a white pointy hat.  I told my siblings that Hubby will look like a KKK member!

So as you see, while Western funerals are quiet affairs involving only close family and friends, the Chinese funeral is very loud and involves the entire community.  I am not excited about Sunday because I don’t even believe in any of this stuff.  My siblings and I are quite Americanized.  This is just something that has to be done for my parents’ friends and extended family.  I’ll be glad to be done with it and be able to move on to Monday, which will be more quiet and really just for us to remember my dad.

I think by now I am done crying.  Now is the time to remember and celebrate his life.



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