This has been a strange year so far, but I know that it has many more stressful moments in for me and my wife. That is because we have chosen to return to Europe for a few years and apart from Neem’s visa, we have no friends there any longer and nowhere to live.
Not to speak of work… However, this year has been unusual so far for two completely different reasons. It has been very cold (for Thailand, but it did get down to 12c one day) and many deaths – someone has died in our village every week this year. All old people, but it is still unheard of. However, as a typical funeral lasts seven days, the deceased have provided a lot of entertainment.
That will take some explanation. Thais feel sadness when a loved one dies, but they see that as selfish. They are sad because they will miss the loved one. As Buddhists, they believe in Heaven and reincarnation, so they are only sad for themselves, spouses and children, not for the departed. As I write this, the monks have just arrived at the funeral two doors up. The deceased lady departed yesterday. She will be cremated on day five.
Days six and seven are to wish her a speedy journey to wherever she is going next. My daughter-in-law has just stopped by the shop where I am having a beer to inform me that our family has just contributed its share to the death toll.
My wife was brought up by her grandmother, which is not uncommon here, and her mother’s sister lived next door. Her husband died fifteen minutes ago from sclerosis. He was expected to live another month, but didn’t make it. That will hurt Neem.
However, I will not be able to comfort her tonight, she will be learning how to embalm and take care of her uncle’s body from the older ladies in the family. It has been a lonely year for me, because although not all the deceased were family, Neem has played as full a role as she could in all the ceremonies, because her mother is not young and she wants a good turn-out for her, when the time comes.
I haven’t seen such an unusual pattern of deaths since the week we got married eight years ago this month. My Welsh family came over for it and eight Thais died in the village. We were hoping that they wouldn’t blame us, because Thais are very superstitious.
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All the best,
Podcast: Many Deaths