There is this thing about death that many Asian Chinese not only deem a taboo topic, but even avoid thinking, more so talking about.
So, the poor dead are often treated with fear. Even a dead close kin becomes an object to be feared, although when alive he or she was the most adorable. Laughable perhaps, but true.
I am often called upon to help the next-of-kins administer to the ‘needs of the occasion’.
Usually, that means to chant prayers, but on a few occasionans I have to share knowledge on how to administer to the mortal remains of the deceased, according to religious procedures; at times, hands-on.
I try my best to do that, and that means not only to keep to Buddhist tennets, but also reconciling local beliefs and superstitions, which can be pretty challenging!
To my best of ability, I include the living relatives not only in contemplating impermanence, which is really the main theme, but also developing an understanding of cause-and-effect; that, through wholesome appropriate actions, they could very much effect benefit to their deceased relatives; not to do that out of fear, but compassion and love.
If I were to be asked, why bother; am I not ever afraid; sure that I don’t fumble or do wrong, I think at this moment, my best answer would be, I try to imagine that the deceased is my own dear parent; and if I don’t do it, who else? Other than that, all else is less important.

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