Readers' Submissions

Death Of A Family Member




I enjoy reading Stickman and seeking out the stories from people on their life in Thailand. I have written stories on my good wife and our five year marriage success. I enjoy the stories on Stickman's of people's day to day life and struggles dealing with cultural differences. This week I began dealing with a death in the family, and decided to share my experiences with Stickman readers.

My mother in law had been fighting cancer for the last six months. She had been to the local hospital and then sent to a larger hospital for more tests. All I could ever get from family was that she had cancer and had to have a surgery. That was less than one year ago. The surgery was done and we were told she had considerable cancer inside. But no one could ever give the type or more details on the cancer. Only that mother was very sick and was hurting all the time.

I was surprised at the lack of information being given on what was happening from the doctors. I wanted to search the web on the cancer to see what her mother's chances were. Was it something treatable or was it something terminal. The answers never came. I still would like to know for my wife's medical history and hope she will be able to find out when she visits.

My wife par for her, never really asked me for money for mother's care. We did send small amounts extra when she was in the hospital having surgery. She told me the hospital costs were covered by the government, so we sent money for food and gas for the people caring for her mother. All in all, a really small amount. My wife has always been very reasonable in her request.

Saturday I came home to find that my wife's mother had passed away. She had gone to the hospital for the pain and the doctor gave her a morphine shot. She went home and never woke up. You wander about the care. Did the doctor just give her an overdose, knowing the pain she was in or was it just her time? But she died at home with her husband sitting next to her.

Now the scramble was on. We already had tickets for the wife to visit her mother on July 4th for two months. She had wanted to go care for her mother before she died. I heard her talking to her friends on how she had not been a good daughter as she was not there to care of her mother. She spoke with her father and asked him why her mother had not waited for her. The family ties and responsibility was really showing in my wife's grief. Mother was not alone, my wife has 8 sisters. But she still felt the need to be there to be a good daughter.

We tried to call the airline for plane changes, but the fees and cost for new tickets was beyond what my wife was willing to have me pay. She told me that the cost for the funeral expenses was around 100,000 baht. We then quickly sent 50,000 to help out with the cost. I felt a very reasonable amount and my wife gave me $500 of that amount from her savings.

I found many things out about the country funeral. She told me that a doctor came to the home, cleaned the mother and prepared the body right at the home. She was then placed in a casket at the home and preparation for visitors and monks began. People would come at all hours and the monks would come in the evening. Her father sat and slept next to her mother. They had been married for over 50 years and I had always seen how he cared for her in little ways when I visited.

I was told this would go on for three nights and then the casket would go to the local temple, that by then the body would begin to smell. That people would be at the home providing food and care for all the visitors.

I was surprised to learn that the coffin was not air cooled as I had read about this on my web searching. My wife told me that the local temple is too poor to have an air cooled coffin and she said that the local people can not afford this. She also told me her temple does not have a crematorium. She said they pile wood up with the coffin on top to complete the cremation process.

In this process after the cremation, she said the family members will go to the ashes and remove the bones and place them in a box. She did not know what the family would do with the bones at this point. But that in about six months they would have a follow up funeral service for the mother. She hopes they will reduce that to two months so that she will be there for that on this trip.

My wife each night would light an offering and tell me she was going to speak with her mother. She would come back in and sit with me and ask me if I remembered her mother. I would tell her stories of things I remembered from our visit. These memories can be of any little thing you remember when you met her. I found my wife took great condolences in my stories and memories. I could see that she felt that I took the time to remember her mother. So if you are married to a Thai lady, watch for these memories when you visit, which will endear you to your wife when the time comes.

A Stickman man


Stickman's thoughts:

Sorry to hear of your loss.