Saturday, May 07, 2005

The performance of grief

Whenever someone dies, people will mourn for him or her. This is a way of showing respect for the person who has passed away.

But the over-dramatic performance of grief (sometimes amplified by the mass media if a celebrity is involved) arouses cynical feelings in me.

Firstly, why is it that many of the closer ones who appear to be so upset over the death of the person could have missed seeing the person for the last time (unless they are working overseas and could not rush back in time, which is a legitimate reason)? Was the death too sudden, or was it simply because these people had not bothered to stay in touch frequently enough to expect the impending death? If I were the one who had just passed away after a period of poor health, I would certainly have preferred to see my 'good friends' and some of the closer relatives before I die, not right after. That's why I cannot stand the statement, 'I came to see him for the last time' (yes, after he is dead), for this act seems to be more for relieving the guilt of the visiting persons, rather than performed out of a geniune desire to 'see the person one last time', since I define 'a last meeting' as one involving mutual interaction between mortals.

Secondly, many people shed tears for people they do not know, which is fine, except that I would ask the question of whether they had been kind to people whom they do know. What I'm saying is that one should be kind, nice, filial, or respectful to the people closest to one first of all, before one can show melodramatic concern for more distant associates without hypocrisy. For example, one should not think about doing charity work for distant others unless one has already discharged the necessary duties towards his/her closer ones. Would it not be strange and too long-sighted if, instead of visiting one's own lonely grandma during weekends, one spends all his or her time doing charity work at old folks home?

Thirdly, if the death was due to the natural process of ageing, and the process was not too painful, one should not feel so sad. Life and death are just part of heaven and earth and the universe.

Thus, I am cynical, but I'm not saying that mourning and paying one's last respects is bad. It's just that I think more can and should be done, firstly when the person was alive (at least a visit before he dies), secondly for one's closer kins, and thirdly in terms of cultivating one's personal acceptance of the naturalness and inevitability of death.


Blogger Ms. If Hor said...

When my grandfather passed away, a cousin forgo dinner to be "with him" (by his coffin). I thought it was very touching until I remembered that she only bothered to visit him during Chinese New Year. I know because I lived with him.

Somehow those who cried the loudest are usually not the ones who are most saddened by the death.

Fri May 13, 12:43:00 AM 2005  

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