I attended the visitation of my good friend's mom, who passed away last Wednesday of cancer. The occasion in itself was very sad, but what I noticed next was totally heartbreaking. It took me a while to figure it out but when I finally noticed, my heart sank.
When my wife and I got into the chapel, the traditional Taoist ceremony was already progressing so we quickly did our three bows to the large picture of the deceased and then turned to do a single bow to my friend and her family, as instructed by the funeral director.
We then sat down in one of the pews and quietly observed the ceremony. As I sat there, I took a look at the table again where the large picture of the deceased was placed, surrounded by all the food and other items that she enjoyed when she was alive. Digesting the image of all the items on the table, I finally noticed another smaller table.
On the smaller table was a teddy bear, a baby bottle and what appeared to be the picture of a baby. I was shocked at the sight. I absolutely did not expect to see this and was taken aback that I didn't notice this in my haste earlier.
After some time, the ceremony neared an end and the family was asked to proceed to the front of the tables to offer incense for the deceased. My friend's little three-year old niece was among the family members, so she was also given an incense stick to offer. After the family placed all their incense in front of the deceased, the funeral director lit another batch and each family member proceeded to place a second incense stick on the smaller table in front of the baby picture. When it came to my friend's little niece, the funeral director said, "go ahead and offer the incense to your little sister."
At that moment my heart absolute sank to the ground. We had seen my friend's sister-in-law over the holidays and everything seemed fine. As we left the visitation I asked my friend what happened to the baby and it turned out the baby girl was born with no heartbeat the very day before her grandmother passed away!
I cannot imagine what my friend's brother is going through - he lost his daughter and mom in one shot. Totally heartbreaking.
This really puts life in perspective. So many of us are experiencing financial loss, but no financial loss can ever compare to the loss that my friend and her family experienced.