On the plane that took me back from Sydney to Jakarta, I was sitting in between an Indonesian girl who studied in Australia and an Australian guy who works in Jakarta. The girl told me that her parents sent her back to Jakarta because every time they called her, she never at home. She was very upset as she really had a good time in Australia.
After a long chat with the girl, I started to chat with the Australian guy who sat on my right side. He’s a political expert who works for Centre for Democratic Insitutions, named Dr. Stephen Sherlock. And apparently, he flew to Australia to attend a memorial service for Alison Sudrajat, one of the victims of the ill-fated Garuda. His ex-wife is Alison’s best friend. He was also a good friend of Alison and they’ve known each other for 15 years. Oh dear…
We discussed lots of stuff until I told him about the cultural differences in handling grief when someone dies. I asked him, “Why do people go to a bar afterwards and drink a lot? Do people drink to get rid of the sadness? Because I think if that’s the reason, it’s not a good idea as after sometime (if we keep continue choosing alcohol as an instant answer to runaway from the sadness), the reality will hit even harder! That’s when we realize that everything is real. And then it’s not good as then we will feel down even more”
He said, “No. That’s not the idea. Of course some of them maybe drink to get an instant “runaway” from the sadness, but actually, the idea of having drinks after a funeral/memorial service is to celebrate the person’s life. So, it’s a whole celebration of his/her life. We celebrate that the person has lived life to the fullest, that he person had done and achieved many good things when they were alive. We celebrate those good things and memories. In short, it’s a celebration of life”.
Wow. That makes sense. We should celebrate and be happy that the person had once lived a beautiful life!
His statement made me think that it’s a totally different way of seeing death. I used to the way Indonesians dealing with loss. We cry for his/her death. We mourn as we won’t see the person anymore. We grief for he/she’s leaving us forever. Then we pray that God will open the heaven’s door that person. We pray that he/she will live peacefully up there.
I never thought that we should party to celebrate a person’s life on the day he died, or after funeral/memorial service. It really gives me different perspectives. And I LOVE the idea.
Instead of grieving (of course we could grief as we can’t deny that it’s such a sad moment), we should be thankful that we get a chance to know the person and witness how the person embraces life. Enjoys life. And we should celebrate that person’s life. For him/her. And for us too! As it’s also a reminder of how precious life is and we shouldn’t waste it.
How beautiful the idea is.
It’s much nicer to think of all the good memories and how nice the person’s life was than grieving for his/her death and thinking that we wouldn’t be able to see him/her anymore.
I’d love to think that we would see each other again. One day… 🙂