Interview - Xi Ying Khoo

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


|| XI YING KHOO, 20, Christian

| PERCEPTIONS TOWARDS DEATH

The most memorable funeral Xi Ying attended was of her maternal grandfather’s (a Buddhist). He had passed away when she was in Secondary School. He passed away when she was in a tuition class, so she was not able to see him for the last time. They had been close as he watched her grow up. His passing came as a shock and left Xi Ying in “total disbelief”, especially since he had not been critically ill, and it was highly unexpected.

Death to Xi Ying is inevitably linked to age, as she conceives that the young generally sends off the old. She fear death as she knows she has yet to accomplish what she hopes to in this lifetime. Her fear of death also stems from the fear of the unknown; of what will happen after death and what will happen to your loved ones. She feels that this very fear is also linked to kinship ties, especially dependent how close she is or will be to that person. “The closer I am to someone, the more I would fear his or her death,” she admits.

With that, she also believes that death comes with pain. Both for the dying and those ‘left behind’. It would be painful for the living to watch the deceased depart from them. As a Christian, Xi Ying feels that death is highly ironic – despite this very pain, death is also something to rejoice about as she believes that the deceased will be moving on to a much “happier place” – heaven. She believes in life after death, and that she will be in heaven with God.

| PRE-FUNERAL

Xi Ying’s family held her grandfather’s funeral immediately after his death, with his funeral lasting for 3 days. Her parents are very traditional Chinese, and hence believe that the funeral should be held as soon as possible for the dead, and should last an odd number of days – 3, 5, or 9.

| FUNERAL

Her grandfather’s funeral was a typical Chinese Buddhist funeral. Although her parents are free-thinkers, she is a Christian, and her grandfather was neither a strict Buddhist nor Taoist, but her mother chose to have a Buddhist funeral as she felt that it was “more peaceful”, with fewer rituals as compared to Taoist funerals where a large amount of burnt offerings were made to the deceased As people came to pay their respects, they would normally come with some money (“拜金”in Chinese) to give to the family as a form of respect. They also would offer joss sticks to the deceased. For Christians/Catholics, they would normally bow to show their respect as they cannot burn joss sticks. After paying their respect, the guests would sit at the temporary tables where peanuts, drinks and sweets were offered. Red thread was also available at each table as the Chinese believe that taking the red thread upon leaving the wake will help one ward off evil or spiritually “dirty” things. Most of the rituals are conducted on the 2nd night and the 3rd morning before the body would be cremated.

As a Christian, Xi Ying felt that she should also participate in the rituals as a form of respect to her grandfather as he looked after her since she was young. That said, she also participated so that her mother would not kick up a fuss, she shared with a laugh.
There was also a set of attire that family members had to adhere to. As the deceased was Xi Ying’s maternal grandfather, she was considered a “外孙”[wai4 sun1, literally translated to mean ‘external grandchildren’] and had to wear a set of white tops with blue bottoms for the funeral’s 3 days. To her cousins, her grandfather was their paternal grandfather, thus they were considered as “内孙”[nei4 sun1, literally translated to mean ‘internal grandchildren’], they had to wear a set of white tops with black bottoms. The attire also varied with “hierarchy”.

Xi Ying then muses over the thought of her own funeral. “Truthfully, I haven’t really thought about how I want my funeral to be like,” she said after a moment of thought. Still, she knows she would want a Christian, and not have people attending in “boring” black or white. She hopes that her funeral will be a reflection of who she is – fun loving – though she wonders how her children would ever pull that off. Nevertheless, Xi Ying feels that funerals should be true reflects of who the person was in his or her lifetime, but also a celebration, as she would be on her way to be with her God.

| POST-FUNERAL

On HOTA, Xi Ying feels that it is a meaningful system. “Your organs will serve no purpose when you’re dead, might as well use it for something more meaningful!” she said, “I’m glad even though I’m dead, someone will gain ‘life’ through my help. I guess if you’re in the patient’s shoes, you would also wish for suitable organs so that you can lead a normal life.” Although she thinks the opt-out system is flawed, with it being a somewhat troublesome process and akin to a “karmic threat” (by placing you lower on the list to get a transplant if you’re ever in need), it is done for the “greater good” and for those who are less fortunate to be inflicted with such illnesses to ever need an organ.


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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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