A few weeks ago I received news that a relative had passed away. As sad as the news was, but at 96, grandpa (not my real grandpa, but that was a lot of people called him because of his age) had a good life, a loving family, and more importantly he was a devoted Christian returning to Him, so in a way it wasn’t as sad as it may sound.
Yesterday I went to grandpa’s funeral to pay my respect. It was the first time I had been to a funeral where the deceased was not my immediate family, the first time I’d been to a Christian funeral, and the first time I’d attended a funeral in Taiwan. It was an intimate and beautiful service attended by close family and friends, but what I really want to share with you is grandpa’s final resting place, something that I saw for the first time. Grandpa was to be cremated, and we were bringing his ashes here.
過程中，我從來沒想過會接觸到一樣極之新穎的事情， 就是老人家火葬後放置骨灰的地方。 骨灰龕是以基督教形式營運， 特別之處是放置骨灰前面並不是一般故人照片及名字的排面。 取而代之是用微型擺設製造出一個個屬於故人生前的生活空間。
THE RECEPTION AREA
This building may not look special other than it is located in a serene beautiful valley which I wouldn’t mind having as my final resting place. I was already in awe of the surroundings when we arrived, but what wowed me was when I stepped inside.
The inside is bright and pristine, very comforting, and there was no feeling of death at all. I wandered around in the reception area admiring the central display, then saw a bank of miniature items.
The miniatures were really cute, and there were many themes on display such as a garden, kitchen, living rooms in different styles. As beautiful as these craft were, I thought it was rather odd to display them here, after all what does miniatures have to do with death? I’ll tell you in a minute, but first of all I want to quickly show you around the rest of the building.
TOURING THE FACILITIES
Here is where we held another simple service for grandpa before we laid his ashes to rest. The double doors open out to the front of the building and the front garden, and I imagine if one was to be buried here, perhaps they will carry the coffin through these doors after the service.
There is a small cafe area for friends and family with free drinks and nibbles. I’ve only shown half of the seating area as there were people sitting around the other side. All very attentive service, especially if there are family and friends who are still upset, I think they should be able to relax here.
Remember the miniatures from earlier on? I’m going to show you how they fit in now. The urn containing the ashes are placed in compartments, stacked up against the wall. Normally the compartment is sealed with a front plate with the deceased photo and name on it. What this place does is to take things a step forward, in fact in my opinion two steps forward.
Instead of a normal front plate, and many photos of dead people starring at you, they have inserted another compartment in front of the urn, and filled it with miniatures. The items are chosen by the family and may reflect their previous abode or even a hobby. Some of them has personal items such as a watch, or a pair of shades as in the one below. I think this person must have been cook when he was alive, and he even has a barbeque in the garden.
This is grandpa’s final resting place on the top right. After the service downstairs, we accompanied grandpa to his final journey where the staff placed his urn inside, and then the front compartment. Finally they added a small vase on the front.
Although I am not a religious person, I was very impressed with the whole setup here. Death is unavoidable in life and although it will bring pain and sorrow to those left behind, why not make visiting their loved one more joyful so they can remember the goods times.
This isn’t my typical travel post, but I think it is one place definitely worth sharing and hope we can see more of these cropping up around the world.
Rest in peace Grandpa.