Thursday, 12 September 2013

Cemetery Etiquette

Most professing Christian believe that when their Earth visa expires they will automatically go to heaven to be with GOD for all eternity.
I'm sure like anything else in life, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch". You'll need to earn your stripes or merit your own salvation to deserve a special place in heaven.

One of these days we're gonna leave this world behind us when we have reached the end of our life's journey, but for now you want to start to live a more meaningful life by spending more quality time with your kids and family.

Those wonderful memories we shared together, we will cherish forever even when one of us has gone.

On special occasions such as All Souls' Day, the deceased’s birthday, Christmas or anniversary of the death, family and friends may take time off to come and visit final resting place.Most family often goes to the cemetery to pay their respects to the lost loved which signifies that we have not forgotten our loved ones who have gone ahead of us. Despite it, we continue to love them till our last breath.

So often flowers and others memorabilia will be placed on the grave as a sign of respect. At the gravesite, traditional important custom including quietly tend the grave-sites, clear the surrounding by pull out weeds , watering flowers and lighting candles.

Some people wonder why put flowers, food or candles on the grave - what do they signify?

Q- Why put flowers on graves? Can the deceased smell their fragrance?

Bringing flowers is an expression of our love and affection for a dear departed person. The death of a loved one has not causes your memory erased for them, they always linger in your heart and not diminish.

Q - Why bring food? Can the dead eat?

Sharing food is symbolic bond of unity which death has not cut off. There is a continuing link between the living and the dead,  some belief in the soul's continued existence even after death.

For most Chinese families will eat the food together there at the grave site to honors the dearly departed, similar like having a dinner gathering when they were living. It's often believed that the dead will eat the "spiritual essence" of the food offered.

Q- Why need to light candles? Can the dead see these?

The lighted candles are used for symbolizing the presence of the risen Lord - Jesus Christ overcoming the darkness of death, bringing us the promise of eternal life and shine light into the darkness of our suffering grief.

He is the constant source of our hope. He assures us that we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us in the home of our heavenly father.

Just like Hachiko this Heartbroken Dog Cries on Owner's Grave.
Proving some animals have more feelings than some humans.

Tomb sweeping should be done by ourselves rather than hired help to portray ourselves as sincerity and not just because everyone else is doing it. In China you can hired 'Tomb-sweepers' during Qing Ming for those too busy to perform ritual. Yeah filial piety declining, if it can be bought then it's a fake for sure. No matter how lavish the ritual but it won't be meaningful if you did not attend yourself.

Mom never ending love for dad does not fades, it just got stronger

While visiting cemeteries some people don't follow the rules of cemetery etiquette. Those visitors should know better than to do those thing, may be lack of common sense or just plain ignorant.

When visiting cemeteries remember to respect the living (the mourners) and the departed (owner's grave).
Those departed are unable to keep their home tidy so it's up to us to ensure the place is properly maintain for others visitor to have a more pleasant experience.

 Except for the sounds of birds, this is a solemn quiet place.

Some of basic rules regarding cemetery etiquette we should follow and observe as follow.
Cemetery Etiqutte guidelines:

1. Follow cemetery rules. Most have a sign posted near the entrance. If no rules and regulation board not around then please use your own judgement.

2. Most cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk. Do not overstayed your welcome as after dark this place will be their home. The normal Visiting hours: 8am-5pm.

3. Follow the roadways and drive slowly, remain off the grass. Watch out for people who may not be paying attention. If the lane is narrow and another car approaches, offer to move your car until they can get through.

WOW nice car!!!!! Generally, we think the owner is an educated person.

Oops, I Was Wrong. She won't budge an inch. How Inconsiderate of her!

4. Most people believe it's disrespectful to walk on a grave but some older cemeteries are tightly packed graves with little space for walkway. It would be impossible for you not to walk over someones grave. Here's an etiquette guide, mum like to mumble when passing someone grave. She would say that, "Excuse me, please move aside". (spoken in Cantonese)

5. If you bring children, keep them at bay and don’t let them play on any of the monuments. Do not let them roaming around the cemetery. Teach them to respect the dead, this place ain't the playground or public park for children.

6. Remember to be considerate, please tone down the voice. Don't talk loudly on the phone, as if you're in your own house. There are other people who are in mourning, try not to distrub them.  Give them space to be there as they're still going through the motions of getting over the death of someone close to them.
Turn off your car stereo while driving  driving through the cemetery or while stationary.

7. If a funeral is occurring, you may consider making another trip or another time. You should NEVER get in the way of funeral processions. Respect their privacy in their time of sorrow and pain.

8. Don’t leave any trash or debris behind in a cemetery. By littering you show disrespect to others who came to visit the tomb. After you have pull out the weeds around the grave, do not throw away somewhere near just for your convenience. There are rubbish bins located throughout the cemetery for you to dispose off your thrash.

9. It's not wise to bring your dog along when you visit the cemetery. Beside creating nuisance of barking which disrupt the peaceful neighbourhood, the dog might also pee or poop on someone's grave.

10. This may not happen on Christian graves but food offerings are seen at the tomb of a deceased person during Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day. Please do not bring food or drink inside a cemetery.
Some folks did not collect back the food offerings when left the site. The deceased can't eat the food but those stray dogs in the are would cause a mess in the area.

11. During the period of Qing Ming some families will begin by setting off firecrackers, not sure why? Are they trying to wake up the dead? I don't think so but it sure scared the living hell out of those mourners.

Grieving is no easy task, there is no truth in what people says, only time can heal the pain.You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one but you will learn to live with it.

In reality, we will never finished with our grief as the continued sorrow is a testimonial to our love.After all, true love never dies. 

Don't you agree that absence does make the heart grow fonder? No one is ever really gone as long as you 
are keeping his memory ALIVE in your heart.

Like the tombstone inscriptions I choose for my dad that says, "Always in our hearts. Gone but not forgotten". 


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