Week 3 Activity Post-China

Last month, I just attended a funeral. My aunt’s father died of lung cancer. Before his death, he had done several major operations. In the last operation, he could only rely on a ventilator and was conscious of a coma. Susan Orpett Long’s article mentioned hospice care,”By the late 1980s, the national government had begun to encourage programs for the treatment of terminally ill patients, leading to the development of more than 50 licensed hospice or palliative care in-patient facilities by the late 1990s (Long & Chihara, 2000).”(Long 2004) However, China’s hospitals don’t have hospice care, also in our country, euthanasia is not allowed in the law, and euthanasia still constitutes a crime of intentional homicide.

At 10 am on June 4, we drove to the funeral parlor that is on a hillside, I remember the entrance was a row of halls and there are 5 halls. Because of the population problem in China, the funeral parlor‘s itinerary is very full, and people must arrive on time and end on time. Because our family is almost all Christians, including aunts (we evangelize them), the funeral is based on Christian tradition. Most Chinese people’s funerals will be carried out in Taoist or Buddhist rituals, and these rituals are not available to Christians. The Christian funeral ceremony is very simple. The aunt invited the pastor and deacon of the church to take full charge. The family first told the deceased’s life, and then invited friends and relatives to give a speech. Next, the pastor came to the stage to give a speech and bless, and then led the congregation to sing a blessing and comfort of hymns. Finally, everyone is lined up to offer flowers to the deceased (white chrysanthemums are prepared, we need to put in coffins, say goodbye to the deceased.), and embrace the deceased’s family. After the end, the funeral staff sent the deceased to cremation, and then the family went to the mountain (where the funeral parlor stipulated) to bury. I read Susan Orpett Long’s article, and the funeral culture in Japan is very different. “The great majority of Japanese do not claim any particular religious faith, rarely participate in religious rituals, and have at most a nominal affiliation with a Buddhist temple for the purpose of performing death and memorial rituals. “(Long 2004)

However, the traditional Chinese funeral is very complicated, although I have not participated. A hall next to it was also holding a funeral (traditional Chinese funeral). Everyone wore uniforms and white mourning. All people’s faces showed sorrow, and close people kept crying. Also, the Chinese people’s funeral, friends, relatives of the deceased usually limited itself to carry arms. in order to express condolences and pay tribute to loved ones who have died. While for white, is usually used in the funeral(such as the funeral wreath, white candles, and signs), it’s a symbol for Mourning, Death, Unhappiness, and Funerals in traditional Chinese culture.

The cost of a Chinese funeral is also enormous, and this tradition began in ancient times. Known today as the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di left a legacy that would make him a towering figure in Chinese history. The News wrote that “Sima Qian wrote that the emperor was laid to rest in a bronze coffin, and his burial chamber was filled with lavish grave goods—replicas of palaces, rivers of mercury, “rare utensils and wonderful objects.” ” The emperor pressed 700,000 laborers and convicts into service to build his grand funerary landscape, for example.”(A. R. WILLIAMS, 2016) And in nowadays, the cost of the funeral is really expensive, the News reported “In Beijing and Shanghai, a proper send-off can cost between 10,000 and 20,000 yuan ($1,300-$2,600), Xinhua news agency said. Funerals for family members cost the average Beijing resident three months’ salary. “Funeral costs have surged from hundreds of yuan in the 1980s to tens of thousands of yuan. I’m afraid I cannot afford my own death,” the report quoted 89-year-old Li Chengxian as saying.” (Reuters Staff, 2007)


A. R. WILLIAMS. (2016, OCTOBER 12). News national geographic, Discoveries May Rewrite History of China’s Terra-Cotta Warriors. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from http://www.frazerconsultants.com/2018/03/cultural-spotlight-argentinian-funeral-traditions/

Reuters Staff (APRIL 5, 2007). World News, Chinese “can’t afford to die” as funeral costs soar, from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Cultural-scripts-for-a-good-death-in-Japan-and-the-US-Long-2004.pdf

Susan Orpett Long. (2004). Social Science & Medicine, Cultural scripts for a good death in Japan and the United States: similarities and differences, from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Cultural-scripts-for-a-good-death-in-Japan-and-the-US-Long-2004.pdf

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