Monday, April 21, 2014

cross culture

One of SB's grad school friends was planning to visit family in Hong Kong and planned to stay with us. Sadly, she phoned a few days ago to report that her mother had suffered a sudden illness and the trip was most likely going to be cancelled. Yesterday her mother passed away from a brain aneurysm. Today she phoned to say that she was still coming over but asked for us to host her father instead of her. Apparently now that he is a widower he is perceived as bad luck, and double that because he will be carrying his wife's ashes to return to their homeland.

I try to be sensitive to other cultures but something isn't right when some people are so fearful of whatever it is - mortality or spirits or something to do with death - that a man who is in deep mourning over the sudden death of his life partner is forced to stay with virtual strangers because he may bring bad luck to his family's home.

I had several friends who lost grandparents and I learned bring white packets with a dollar added to the denomination (bak gum) and receive the guk yee. I thought that it was very meaningful. I thought that the ways of showing respect were thoughtful and reverent.  I didn't know about this ugly side of mourning. I feel awful for this poor man who is coming to stay with us. This situation horrifies me.

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