F-i-L checked out last Saturday morning. His demise is the closest I've ever come to the loss of an immediate family member. While not entirely involved with the legalities and procedures therein, I was mostly a witness to the proceedings, service support to the bereaved and somewhat of a participant in the sending-off rituals that lasted the past five days.
"Somewhat of a participant" is because there is a little awkwardness when two families that profess different religions are united in marriage. Both religions make it a point to honour our parents and it is on this basis that mutual respect for both parties is facilitated. As a family member, there are certain ceremonial obligations that have to be performed in a traditional Chinese funeral. It helped that our funeral director had experience in these matters and was able to advise on what was necessary and what was could be waived for a potato-eater like me.
I didn't have to participate in the evening chanting services, so I sat with the other guests to listen and watch. Although the unfamiliar ritualistic vocalizations might have scared me as a child, I learned to appreciate the subtle harmonies and the complex, yet gentle percussive rhythms that combined to create a calming and peaceful effect on the emotions, and focus reflective, prayerful thoughts towards our dear departed.
My specific duties as son-in-law was to provide this flower and fruit basket as a token of my regard and esteem towards my father-in-law:
and also to sponsor the band that played before the last rites and accompanied our procession behind the hearse as we made our way to the cremation:
Papa, who so loved to travel is now on the ultimate trip. He will be missed.