Our family was at a loss when my father-in-law passed away. It was 1.23 am on a Sunday morning and we needed to have the body collected by 4.30 am before the hospital placed it in a freezer in the mortuary. It would then take at least 10 hours of paper work to retrieve Papa's body.
Luckily we contacted Singapore Casket and they did their best to help us by collecting Papa's body around 5am. It was sent to the funeral parlour for cleaning and embalming.
In discussation with a Funeral Advisor
The family members gathered at Singapore Casket where a Funeral Advisor was assigned to us. He guided us through key decisions and make arrangements for the funeral to help ease our grief.
Surprisingly, there are more of the traditions and superstitions about my culture that I was not aware of. Not being superstitious plus I am a Christian, I followed many of them out of respect for my beloved Papa.
Selecting a coffin
Depending on how much one is willing to fork out for a funeral, there are several packages available from Singapore Casket. Although we did not opt for an extravagant package, the estimated cost for our 3-day package is around S$30,000. *gulp*
Expect that EVERY THING costs money. And prepare lots of red packets (cash tokens of appreciation) :P
Choosing a pearl
Chris had to choose a shiny pearl from the tray of tiny ones as Papa would have one placed on his lips. Why? According to the staff , "so his descendents will prosper". Really!?
I thought to the Chinese, the pearl is a symbol of immortality, wisdom. purity?
When the coffin was moved into the room, everybody present had to look away as it is believed that looking at it is disrespectful. A monk led the family members to chant Buddhist sutras.
Different mourning patches are worn on the left sleeve of each immediate family members, indicating their relationship to the deceased.
Incinerator for the paper money
Candies, peanuts and melon seeds for visitors to snack on. Each visitor takes home a red string as a good blessing.
Dinner and supper provided for all visitors
An offering of vegetarian dishes for Papa
Food has to be offered to Papa every morning, noon and evening. This is to make sure that Papa is full and not hungry before he embarks on the journey.
Every morning, we have to prepare a basin of water "for Papa to wash his face and squeeze toothpaste on his toothbrush so he could clean his teeth."
Seeing the disbelief on my face, the funeral assistant reminded me that "this will be the last two days of your life to do this for him." Hearing that, I immediately felt ashamed for even resisting doing this.
Burning loads of "yin paper money" so Papa could have money to spend in the other world.
We bought a paper house with paper servants and paper furniture to be burned as offerings. The paper effigies represent material goods that Papa could take with him to the afterlife.
Wads of “yin paper money” would be placed around the paper house before it is burnt. The “yin paper money” is expected to be used to bribe guards and officials in the other world. :P
The Chinese believe that it is extremely important to make the deceased comfortable in the afterlife. Once the dead ancestors are well-taken care of, their descendents will enjoy harmony and prosperity.
Final send off for Papa
As Singapore Casket took care of most of the funeral arrangements, we were able to attend to guests and other more pressing matters.
Singapore Casket Company (Pte) Ltd
131 Lavender Street Singapore 338737
Tel : 6293 4388 (24-hour service)
Fax : 6296 5993
Nearest MRT Station : Lavender
Available Carparks : Tyrwhitt Road, Home Road, Foch Road and Eminent Plaza