Interview - Chen Jiaying

SKIP TO INTERVIEW | Xi Ying Khoo | Jodie Goh | Chen Jiaying | Chee Hui Ming | Toh Jiahe |

|| CHEN JIAYING, 20, Christian


The most memorable funeral Jiaying attended was of her paternal grandfather's. She was highly saddened as she respected him very much as an elder, although she had never spoken to him before, as he had lost his voice when she was still young.

She attributes her fear of death to youth, and not having completed her own perception of what a full life experience is. She feels that she would gradually come to accept death upon nearing the age of around 60 years. Death would then have become a highly possible situation and she would feel less regretful when the time came. Nevertheless, age does play an important part in shaping her conception of death and dying.

To Jiaying, death means the ending of her physical life, but also a point of transition in her spiritual life. However, death also means ones less human influence in the world. She sees every human life as having the potential to make a good and bad influence in the world, and she always feels saddened by the passing of someone who had the potential to make the world a better place, especially so if they are of a young age. Still, as a Christian, she feels that she will join God in Heaven when the time comes.


Jiaying's grandfather's funeral was held as soon as all the family members from across the world arrived in Canada, where the funeral was held. It took about 4 days to a week.


The funeral was western-style because it was in Canada. The wake was held in a funeral home, instead of in the void deck as some Singaporean Chinese do. Nothing exceptionally special was done. She remembers family members going up to the coffin to take their last looks at her grandfather, after which they took a seat at the benches to wait for the wake to end and for the last procession to set off. The coffin was carried by the sons of her grandfather to the van, which was transported to the cemetery. At the cemetery, the pastor delivered a few religious verses, as all attendees laid white roses on the coffin when it was placed in the ground.

After the burial, she and her family went for a joyous lunch, and then to church. A memorial service was held to celebrate my grandfather’s life. The funeral started out sad in the funeral home, but ended on a celebratory note as they all felt that her grandfather had a fulfilling life and passed on peacefully with a big loving family by his side. In Christinanity, he is believed to have gone to Heaven to be with God, which is a joyous thing to her. It was definitely typical of a Western Christian funeral tradition.

For herself, she would insist on a Christian memorial service, with her closed ones sharing their memories of her life. "I believe my life, regardless of my future manner of death, has been rather happy and fulfilling and ought to be celebrated," she shares. She believes that this idea was very much influenced by the only funeral she has ever attended - that of her grandfather's - with the key message of the service to provide closure to her loved ones: that she has simply left to join God in heaven. She feels like that would be the only way to give her friends and family a peace of mind, and that she has gone to a better place no matter what happened.

Nevertheless, she hopes that if she passes on peacefully (due to natural causes such as an illness), she would hope that there would be a celebratory meal after her burial - one to be an occasion for friends and family to interact and reconnect with each other, rather than mourning over her passing. "Living relations are the most important," she emphasizes.


Jiaying approves of the HOTA system, though she has her reservations about the way future donors are informed, deeming it "a little threatening" if they weren't aware of the conditions of donation withdrawal prior to receiving their letter of notification (nearing their 21st birthday). Still, she is all for the benefits of post-mortem organ donations for people in need, and hence has no major issues with the opt-out policy as she would then not have to go through the trouble of opting-in.

-end of section-

SKIP TO INTERVIEW | Xi Ying Khoo | Jodie Goh | Chen Jiaying | Chee Hui Ming | Toh Jiahe |

NAVIGATION: The !Kung San | The Toraja | The S'porean Chinese | Comparisons, Conclusions, and Final Thoughts | Sources & References

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