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I discovered peace, thanks to my grandmother

Updated: Jan 11

My grandmother's death was the first and only time I faced a deceased person. On her last day, my parents, my grandmother's sister and I were in the hospital. It was a beautiful day, a soft light crossed the ward, it was a day like any other days. We knew Grandma would pass away any time, we were prepared for that. 


My mom took Grandma's hand, my great-aunt stood next to them and I stood at the end of the bed. Grandma greeted my mom and great-aunt by their names. When I approached Grandma, she called me by my name, Ho Chung, in a low and fragile voice. We spent a short while in silence, Grandma coughed softly and then everything became quiet again. When the screen showed Grandma’s pulse dropped to zero, we knew that she had passed away. Mom touched Grandma's forehead gently. Tears rolled down Mom’s cheek.

I thought: that’s it. Yes, that was it, it was so quiet. I did not experience the great emotions that I had sometimes perceived in the films. I wasn't afraid. Everything had happened very calmly and peacefully.


Occasionally I want to call Grandma on the phone, but then I remember that she is already in heaven.

I was in her arms
My grandmother and me

My grandmother's funeral

It was the first time I had sat so close to a deceased person. Usually I sat further away from the families of the deceased. Sometimes I didn't know what was happening at the funeral, or it didn't concern me. In fact, most funerals in Hong Kong scared me: the Buddhist monks chanted verses that few people understand, always in the same tone and without rhythm, without looking at anyone. The Taoist priests were even more awful, they danced in a circle with flaming swords and then smashed the tiles on the floor. And the families burned the papers in the form of fake bank notes. The room was often filled with smoke and very unpleasant noises.


My grandmother's funeral was completely different. It was the Christian rite. Grandma had eight children, my mom is the only one who lives in Hong Kong. On the day of the funeral,

all my mom’s siblings attended the funeral service. The funeral hall was filled with lots of flowers, unlike the custom that the flowers are often white chrysanthemums hung on the overhead panels, they were multi-colored. There were some flowers that I had never seen in Chinese funerals such as carnations, birds of paradise, roses and lilies in different colors and some rare flowers which I did not even know their names. The room was fragrant. 

Many friends from the church attended the funeral service, they were not only her friends but also people I had known well since I was little. The funeral service was very peaceful and comforting. What touched me most were my father’s words. He recounted our routine of picking Grandma up in his car to attend Sunday service together. He treated Grandma as if his own mother, he expressed his deep love for her, although my father is not an extroverted person, it moved me. Thanks to my grandmother, I learned the peace of death.


As the poet wrote:

Only the actions of the just

Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.

Grandmother's 70th birthday party


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