Penang Ghost Stories .
Everyone loves a good ghost story even if it means nightmares for the rest of the week. Even my 8-year-old daughter loves to hear about it and how she cringes whenever she sees a horor movie or even hears a ghostly tale, but at the end of it all, her ears and spreaded fingers across the eyes will bear until the end of the story. Many people when I introduce myself as a funeral director, will always have this question at the tip of their tongue, “ Has any of the dead people come back to visit you?”
I do thank God that I do not have any of my customers coming back to complain nor have they visited me to thank me in person or given me any 4-D numbers to bet on. I rather not they do.
If there is news that a certain place is haunted, you can be sure that there are those who will definitely be up for the challenge to pay a visit to such a place. One group for sure to make a visit to such a place will be the gamblers with roasted chicken and kuih and other food stuff and drinks in their hand asking for numbers.
However, this article is not about ghost stories (sorry to disappoint) but rather about the ghost many of us carries with us all our lives. To me, these ghosts are by far more dangerous and destructive than the ones you hear of. We carry these ghosts on our backs (the reason for some backaches) through our lives and afraid of letting it go (for whatever the reason maybe). Moreover, because of this ghost that we carry, fear creeps into our innate being and criticizes our every movements and decisions, freezing us from venturing beyond our perceived safe zone.
Looking at my kids, ages 8, 6 and 2, I noticed that fear does not seem to exist in them. When my daughter (8 yrs of age now) was two years old, she would climb the highest level of the front door grill, turn around, and wave to us. The same wave I presume the climbers of Mt. Kinabalu would give once reached to the top, and it gave me the sudden adrenaline rush of a 100 m sprinter to go to her. My wife at that time commented that that was the only time she has seen me moved so fast. When the second and third child came along, the sprinter became more of a coach for the climber. Instead of freaking out as if the world was ending, my wife and I became coaches for a climber. We taught them how to climb back down safely and carefully.
When we drive by “kampungs” (villages), we noticed kids there runs around bare footed and climbs trees and chase chickens till those poor creatures (the chickens) practically looks pale and exhausted and wishing they could enlist in Colonel Harland Sanders’s army. However, when we look at kids brought up in modernised urban areas, parents there have houses cleaner than operating theaters and wafer production clean rooms. These urban kids seemed protected from all elements and microbes but ironically, they tend to be sick easily compared to the bare footed, rain drenched hardy kids of the kampung.
Looking at my kids, there seems to be no fear in them; I guess through the years, we teach our kids fear without realising the consequences. For example, when a kid climbs onto a high table, some parents will yell and do the 100m sprint, as if the whole building is collapsing on the kid. Moreover, the description they would give the kid if he falls is equivalent to a fall from a 27-storey building. Now, which kid when they grow up wouldn’t be afraid of heights?
Looking at my kids play, especially my 2 year old, there seem to be no fear or with no boundaries, often falling down but picking himself up, seeking comfort and then back to doing the same thing once again, forgetting the fall he just had. But as we grow older, we tend to surround ourselves with invisible boundaries and restrictions and fears that often prevents us from moving forward.
I call this a ghost that we carry with us, often picking up different types of ghost as we move from one phase of life to another. Sometimes this ghost has scarred us so badly that we tend to be overly cautious and afraid to be hurt again. Not wanting to feel those pain and frustrations, we tend to shy away and place a level 5 cautionary status ready for a fight or flight mode. One example to this, which I often hear from people, is “all guys/girls cannot be trusted”. Labelling and generalization will often cause distrust to the person you are intending to go into a relationship with. When one place a level 5 warning on a relationship, what happens is, the person you are with will always be under your microscope, the slightest action that triggered a hurtful memory will bring a battle cry, and you will break down your armoury door to be battle ready.
At times when we failed in relationships or often land ourselves in trouble, maybe we should take a step back and look at our lives with a different perspective. At times the fault could be ours, borrowing from Newton’s 3rd law of motion which states: The mutual forces of action and reaction between two bodies are equal, opposite and collinear. This means that whenever a first body Fexerts a force on a second body, the second body exerts a force −F on the first body. F and −F are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. This law is sometimes referred to as the action-reaction law, with F called the “action” and −F the “reaction”. The action and the reaction are simultaneous.
By looking at history, we have to learn to understand our behavior and reactions; laying down our weaknesses and playing up on our strength and as we continue to look at the positive nature of our own self, we will let go of fear and brace faith in our abilities, moving us from one plateau in life to the next.
In my days as an undertaker, I have heard of testimonies and have even spoken to some who wants me to go over their funeral arrangements, when they are done with the arrangements, some have mentioned the regrets they have for not doing things they wanted to do when they had the time. I remembered one case where this gentleman told me, he said he wished he was closer to his wife and children but through his years, his job and money has always been the priority. His ghost was his childhood. He didn’t want to be in the state of being without money. He didn’t want his children and wife to have what his father could not give them, at the end of the day he managed to give the best to his wife and kids but at what price? He told me, his wife and kids treat him like an ATM machine, will only talk to him when they need money and ATM machines are luckier, at least it is physically touched by the person withdrawing the money, but he was never hugged or touched by his wife or kids. He died a rich man but a lonely miserable death in the hospital surrounded by machines and not his loved ones.
The lessons I learnt here was, we need to find balance in life, we need to have faith in God, trusting that He has our life sorted out, we need to have our loved ones (wife, kids, family, and friends) close in our hearts and not taking each one of them for granted. Knowing we, are all human and we tend to make mistakes along the way. We need to be realistic, making a little allowance for mistakes and having the patience to teach. Most importantly to have passion and love in life and for life and for all that we do. As passion and love will definitely chase the ghost that has hindered us from living life to the fullest.
Today, I would like to give you the pros and cons of being cremated. I have told my wife, when I die I would like to be cremated and she can do whatever she wants with my ashes. This process is so much faster and cleaner as cremated remains can be collected the very next day. You do not need a 6’ by 4’ grave but rather a 11” by 10” niche would suffice. Being cremated there is also advantages for disposal, eg, if you like scuba diving, your cremated remains can be scattered in the sea and if you like hiking, well, chose your favorite hill to scatter. Or if your children has decided to migrate to another country, they could bring your remains with them and place the remains in a niche where they are. I have also heard that some are keeping the remains at home, but for this option, it is wise to place in a stable and safe place, you do not want an OPPsss!! to happened.
Here I have listed down some pros and cons about being cremated.
Pros for cremation
- Clean and fast. Cremated remains can be collected the next day
- Niches at Batu Gantung cost between RM 600.00 to RM 10000.00. It is a one-time fee and no maintenance needed.
- The granite plaque can cost about RM 300.00 to RM 550.00 only
- No additional cost on worker’s and transportation
- Place is maintained by the appointed managers.
- Cremated remains can be brought to anywhere the surviving family decides to locate.
- Surviving familes can pay visits is a clean and comfortable environment.
- Cremation caskets cost less
- Cremated remains can be scattered anywhere that is dear to you.
Cons for cremation
- The surviving families cannot have quiet and personal moment with their loved ones, as there are other niches surrounding and more people around.
- One niche for one urn only, cannot be shared.
- Collection of the ash remains can be quite dreadful for some members of the family. We can arrange for the ashes to be placed in urns and ready for collection.
- Some sceptics feel that the remains shown may not be of their loved ones. But rest assured, so far the crematorium that we have dealings with has not made any blunders.
- Only the visible bone fragments will be picked and the remaining wood ash and what ever else will be placed in a common bag and buried by the crematorium.
In my next article, I will describe the process of cremation and the do’s and don’ts.
Felix Nair – Funeral Director
For Peace Casket and Funeral Services
Tel: 04 899 1298
HP: 017 588 2498