On the road

March 29, 2010

in random

Someone wise told me that having kids will help move the grieving process along. Not easier, but along. She is absolutely right. Your kids force you to face the reality. They are your reality. Your present. Can’t dwell on the sadness when your kids demand that you be there for them. There are responsibilities. Things to be done. Life does carry on.

Of course, having kids also gives you a different perspective because of the unique, innocent way in which they understand it, talk about it.



I showed Mr. Monk, my 7-year-old boy, the pictures of my aunt and me.

“Is this your aunt?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Who is that? Oh, is it you? You look….”

“… Like a boy?” I volunteered.

“Yes… But you are so adorable!”

Then he asked whether he could have one of these for his picture frame because he wanted to have a picture of my aunt in his room. When I asked him which picture he’d choose, he said he couldn’t decide because he “likes both of them so much!” I suggested the one with me waving,

“Ok. I like this one too. But maybe I should show it when you die because it is like you are waving goodbye.” He said matter-of-factly.

This was before I have found a chance to tell him that my aunt has passed away.

I laughed. In a way, it made perfect sense!



Different people grieved differently. I wonder whether for the littlest people, strong emotions like this actually may take a long while for them to process as the concept of death is quite abstract, until you have a chance to figure out what it means “materially”.

We told our kids on Saturday that my aunt has passed away. Mr. Monk who had cried with me when my aunt was unconscious in ICU did not say anything. Not a single tear. His older brother actually got upset at him for being cold-hearted.

Last night, Mr. Monk came up to me with tears streaming down his face, hiccuping,

“I am so sad your aunt died. That means I will never get to see her again!”

He cried himself to sleep while I hugged him.

Today on the phone (I am out of town on a business trip) he found out that I will be going home for the funeral. After the initial crying bout about how he also wanted to go to the funeral, to say goodbye, he asked,

“But you will take pictures, right?”

“Hmmm. Ok. I can take pictures of my family.” Fully aware that’s not what he meant.

“No. I want you to take a picture of your aunt.”

“Hmm. I don’t think I can.”


“Hmmm. Because she is… she is not alive any more?”

“Oh. You mean you don’t show her in front of the church there?”

“No. Honey. I am sorry. We don’t do that in Taiwan.”

“Well, will you take a picture of the funeral then?”

“….  I will take pictures of my families when we get together, ok?”




My cousin told me that it is actually kind of a silver lining that because of her mother’s passing, family members have been stopping by to my aunt’s house to pay their respect which becomes a great opportunity for families of different generations and relations to catch up, and even for some of them to meet and greet each other for the first time now that the baby is no longer a baby, the young man no longer a young man. The house is now filled with people at all hours, exactly how my aunt would have liked it before she fell ill. My cousin and my other “like-sisters” have been keeping vigil, catching up, consoling each other, and even sometimes joking and laughing, remembering things that my aunt said or did.

We both agreed that my aunt would have liked that. She would like that.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Devon March 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm

It is so interesting to see death from a child’s perspective. Thank you for sharing.
.-= Devon´s last blog…What is Food Like in Ecuador =-.


Elly Lou March 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm

You’ve got to be having trouble breathing what with all these hugs I’m sending you.
.-= Elly Lou´s last blog…Rainy Days and Mondays =-.


Linda at Bar Mitzvahzilla March 30, 2010 at 12:42 am

It’s one of the sad facts that a death in the family, like your aunt’s, brings people together, and then, like you said, people have this amazing chance to rediscover each other.

This is what I remember about grieving when I was a kid: I had no idea how to do it. I didn’t know what was appropriate and what wasn’t. Even at nine or ten years of age I don’t think I completely understood it. I understood the drama of it, watching my relatives crushed by it, but looking back I can see that I could have used a little coaching in grief and that not everyone’s grief looks alike.


Sarah March 30, 2010 at 11:47 am

Yes. Not everyone’s grief looks alike. Yes yes yes!


March 30, 2010 at 4:39 am

So glad you get to go to the funeral. And that is a great pic of you and your aunt!

One of my sisters took post-mortem pics of my dad. She also took pics at the funeral as his casket was being carried out. WTF?? Who wants to make a scrapbook page from that? It makes me laugh, but I guess she needed that. I guess I could always post them on my blog — JUST KIDDING! So kids aren’t the only ones who find that fascinating. Oh man . . .
.-= Andrea´s last blog… =-.


March 30, 2010 at 11:37 am

I am so sorry about your aunt.

I am happy that you get to see other loved ones.

Sending you a big hug and lots of love.


Jane March 30, 2010 at 11:52 am

Still hurting for you and your family. But I’m so glad you’re able to go and connect with other family members who are hurting, too. I’m sure the collection of love in one room will bring much comfort – more than my feeble attempts here, anyway. Sending hugs.
.-= Jane´s last blog…One Hand On My Keyboard And The Other Is Giving A High Five =-.


Sarah March 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Three years ago last month my husband’s dear friend died. My oldest son was four at the time. There were so many questions about death and life and loss and pain that I think it really started to change my view of things. Seeing things through a child’s eyes. There’s nothing like it.
.-= Sarah´s last blog…the rainbows of my life =-.


Diane Laney Fitzpatrick March 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I just love Mr. Monk. He reminds me a little bit of the kid in A Prayer for Owen Meany. Wise beyond his years. Why don’t people take photos at funerals? My siblings and I are huge photographers – we take pictures of everything. But it would have never occurred to us to take photos at my mom’s funeral. I think the others in her generation would have keeled over. (There was a horrific murder in my town last Thanksgiving. Several people killed, including a 6-year-old girl. Her father put pictures of her funeral on his Facebook page and I must say, it was really an experience to see. They were beautiful pictures of horrible grief. Made me wonder why we don’t do that more often.
.-= Diane Laney Fitzpatrick´s last blog…Creepster Bunny =-.


lagunatic March 30, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Going to the funeral is the most important thing you could do. I’m so sorry you lost your Aunt, but I’m happy for you that you at least get to say good bye in person.
More hugs to you.
.-= lagunatic´s last blog…How to get a bikini body by summer. =-.


Kristen @ Motherese March 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I am so sorry to hear the news about your aunt. This post and your last one are beautiful tributes to a very special woman. I hope your trip will give you the chance to celebrate her life in the way that feels right to you.

Sending giant hugs and neck rubs (headaches be gone!).
.-= Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog…Raising Happiness =-.


Fuck Yeah, Motherhood! March 30, 2010 at 10:01 pm

“Waving Goodbye” would make a brilliant title for the book you write about her. You could, you know, and I’d be first in line for autographs and hugs.

I’m sorry about your aunt. Thank you for sharing.
.-= Fuck Yeah, Motherhood!´s last blog…Discovery: Nothing Rhymes with “Vagina” But “Bagina”. Additional Discovery: “Bagina” Is Not A Word. =-.


subWOW March 31, 2010 at 8:30 am

Thank you guys again for the encouraging and kind words.

Wrt. taking pictures at funerals… I didn’t get into it with Mr. Monk or in my blog post because you all know how I hate “stereotyping” my own culture, people and the place I came from. BUT there is this strong belief that taking pictures of anything funeral-related is not only bad luck, it could potentially hinder the deceased’s journey to the after life. So it is a NO-NO. I remember when I was a kid, when there’s a funeral procession, I was always told to turn my head and not look. Again, like any custom/tradition, I cannot say 100% of Chinese people or 100% of people in Taiwan subscribe to this belief.


Robin March 31, 2010 at 9:13 am

We all deal with grief differently don’t we and never quite as we expect.
.-= Robin´s last blog…We Need To Talk About Kevin =-.


March 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

Oh, I wish you could drop Mr. Monk off here to stay with us while you’re gone!

I saw an obituary in the newspaper today that said the deceased had requested that in lieu of sending flowers, she would prefer that her friends send a bouquet to someone they love, with a note telling them so. I thought that was a lovely thought.

Hugs to you. Glad you’ll get to spend them with your family there. It allows your aunt to leave you all with one final gift–being surrounded by people you love.

Traveling mercies…!
.-= Merrilymarylee´s last blog… =-.


William March 31, 2010 at 9:39 am

Sorry for your loss.
.-= William´s last blog…The Condom Theory =-.


secret agent woman March 31, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I so love the matter of fact way that kids approach the world. I remember one of my sons goign through a phase where he’d point out various items in the house and say, “When you die, can I have that?”


March 31, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Awww what a sweet story. And you’re so very right- we all deal with grief differently. <<>>
.-= Jen @ NathanRising´s last blog… =-.


Velva April 1, 2010 at 7:24 am

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am so glad that you will have the opportunity to return home.
.-= Velva´s last blog…Lemony Potato Salad =-.


A Vapid Blonde April 2, 2010 at 7:17 am

Have a safe trip. And that boy of yours!!!!
.-= A Vapid Blonde´s last blog…Birthdays, Clown Porn & Wine Funnels =-.


magpie April 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Hours after my mother died, the women we knew were in the kitchen, “sitting shiksa”. Someone brought a mess of bagels, and I made pots of coffee, and yeah, through tears, we laughed. Because it’s what you do.

Safe travels. Your aunt sounds like she was a good one. I’m sorry.


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