On Drinks and Grief

When I was in Sydney, I had so many questions in my head, in which suddenly everything was clear on the way back to Jakarta.

Being there, attending a series of Morgan’s memorial services, from the day he was cremated, the memorial service, and the paddle out on Bronte Beach to scatter his ashes, I realized that the way people dealt with all these “funeral” ceremonies could be different in each country.

Am not used to go to a bar/pub and drink alcohol after attending a memorial service. Yet, in Sydney, we always went straight to a bar/pub afterwards. After the mass at the crematorium, we went to a bar to drink and had light lunch. The next day, after attending the memorial service, everyone went straight to a bar called “Slip Inn” and drank a lot until the sun went down.

Plus, on Saturday, 24 March 2007, Morgan’s families and friends gathered together at Bronte Beach and paddle out to spread his ashes on the sea. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was so blue. A perfect weather to go to the beach. A perfect day to scatter his ashes. He would love that. He used to surf at Bronte a lot. When he showed me a picture of where he lived, I was so jealous and said, “Wow, you could walk to this beautiful beach! How lucky you’re. Awesome!” I could tell from his face that he loved the place.

The boys paddle out with surf boards, while the girls got on a jetski that dragged us to the middle of the sea. The water was pretty cold, I had to admit :P. It was pretty scary on a jetski as well since the waves were pretty high. Anyway, it was really nice to be there in such a lovely day. We made a circle and held each other’s hands. Caroline, Morgan’s sister, scattered his ashes, followed by applauses from everyone. “Hip hip huurrraayy!” Then they even sang.. a cheerful song (I forgot the title, am so bad with song titles!)

It was pretty odd for me. Everybody looked so happy and cheerful. Nobody cried. It was totally different from the scene when my Dad passed away and we scattered his ashes on the sea from a boat. Everyone on the boat cried. Everyone looked very upset. Including me.

But this time, on a similar occasion, the scene before me showed the opposite. None of them cried. Besides, everyone was clapping their hands when Caroline scattered the ashes. I just didn’t get it. How come everyone looked so happy? If it happens in Indonesia, I’m sure everybody would cry out loud as it’s such a sad moment..

But you know what, I kinda like the Australian way of scattering ashes. There’s no tears.. and it feels like a happy moment, not a sad one. I’m sure that if we were the person who died, we wouldn’t like seeing our families, friends, loved ones cry, would we?

And, as you might guess, we went to a cafe afterwards, to drink, again :).

I noticed that there were lots of drinking going on here. Yup. There were. And it’s part of the culture.

I imagined how Indonesians deal with such condition. Normally, after attending a funeral, we go to the person’s house or the family house, and pray.. a lot… and cry. That’s what we always do. So, no going to a pub for drinks. No way.
People will cry a lot. We grief and mourn because the person is leaving us and will never return. And we should feel sad about it and shouldn’t go to a happening place, as it’s disrespectful. We should mourn and pray.

So, you can feel how odd I felt when I was there. I don’t mind going to a pub/bar/club as I love parties and I love to drink as well. But I just didn’t feel right to go there straight after attending a memorial service at the church. The culture that I grew up with taught me that it’s inappropriate.

I left Sydney with the amazement and questions in my head.

But then I got the answer of those questions on my way back to Jakarta. On the plane.

Do you want to know what the answer is? I’ll tell you tomorrow! 😉


  • In Ireland we always have a whiskey or three at a get together or three after a funeral, much like in Austrailia.

    I suppose it’s a social get together thing where people mark a person’s passing together and try to share some funny stories and come to terms about recent events together.

    Anyway the posts are great, good chance for me to reflect on things.

    Thanks. Chin up!

  • Nila, its the western way of celebrating one’s life I guess.
    Yes, the grief is there, but we would all like to think that our loved one would want us to be happy, as they leave us for God.
    I know my dad, said on his deathbed, “you guys better get going home, its a long day tomorrow, and you better get some rest.”
    We didn’t know of course that it would be his last wish, but we should remember the good times, and no matter what, be happy for they will be happy that we are living life for them.

  • Hehehe, I’ve lived here in Sydney for 9 years now. LOVE IT! The best thing i’ve ever done was to move here. Yes, it’s strange how they deal with loss. But I eventually understood it when my husband’s step mother died 2 years ago. In their culture, they celebrate life. When someone dies, they leave precious memories behind and believe the dead wouldn’t want you to be sad and they are ok ‘up’ there. I actually much prefer how they make it as a celebration of life rather than mourning the loss. We all know they’ve gone to a better place. Especially when it’s someone who’s made a difference to many people’s lives. I think when you lose someone you appreciate how precious life is. Hence we have to celebrate it!! BTW, I saw you on tv 🙂

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