Funeral care consultants are the guiding lights of family members when dealing with funerals. They stand between life and death, watching the living and the departed. Kezman Kok says that the relationship between the departed and their family members can generally be observed from the body language of the family members, but it is a skill learnt through experience. From a layman’s point of view, this profession carries a sense of purpose, but Kezman entered the profession just to make a living. Then in a blink of an eye, 12 years have passed: ” In this industry, people who can do it, continue to do it for a long time…”
Many years ago, Kezman received a case and went to pick up the body. It took more than four hours to drive. He picked up his black jacket, got into the back seat of the pick-up car, and then slept on the stretcher to make up for sleep all the way to pick up the body. Some people would this is taboo, saying: ” This is where dead people lie on, how can you just lie on it? “.
Kezman Kok, who has been in the funeral industry as a funeral care consultant for 12 years, only has this to say: ” I only think that after receiving the body, there are still many other matters to deal with. The most important thing is to get enough rest, so when I’ve arrived at the destination, I have the mental and physical strength to handle the departed’s death. It’s the most important thing to have for a successful funeral, and there is no taboo. ” No matter how many times you experience the pain of losing a loved one, you can’t really let go. Perhaps, allowing the departed to pass on with dignity is the greatest comfort for family members when they are overwhelmed with pain. ” In some places, due to issues with space, the body cannot be transported on a stretcher. Two people will have to lift it but cannot turn around. I can only carry the body to the body car. “
” Actually, don’t have to have overcomplicate things. Think of it this way: If my departed loved one look dishevelled, what should I do? Of course, I want to let him leave with dignity and not just drag the body. “
Kezman, who now freely shares his workplace knowledge and experience, is bemused by the fact that just twenty years ago, he was just a bewildered son dealing with the passing of his father. Looking back on that difficult hurdle in his heart, he wonders: “ Why wasn’t there a person like ‘himself‘ there with his younger self back then? ” When he was about 22 years old, his mother knocked on his door in a panic one night, and he came out to find his father lying on the ground. Like most men, my father only wore a pair of shorts at home. When he tried to give first aid, he didn’t know where to start, and it was difficult to move his father’s fallen body. After finally arriving at the nearby clinic, the clinic doctor just asked, ” Is he still breathing? “, knowing that his father seemed to be not breathing, he quickly waved his hand and told him to send his father to the hospital. He said that it was the fastest he had driven in his life, and he didn’t even have time to pay attention to traffic lights. He recalled the last time he had driven with his father, when he was young and brash, and said harsh words to his father: ” I won’t drive you around again! “
An unbearable pain of the heart ” I’ve done a lot, but I can’t move on “
” I just got my driver’s license before, and I was in a rebellious phase. As soon as my father got in the car, I couldn’t help but say something harsh, “ I don’t want to drive you in the future! ” Later on, I went to Singapore for part-time work and study. As it turns out, I never got a chance to fetch him around him. “
As he talks about his father, under the warm yellow lights of the restaurant, Kezman burst into tears several times. His biggest regret is that he has never sat down with his father to have a good heart-to-heart talk over some tea or a delicious meal. Even when he had a child and became a father, his regret did not fade with time. ” I can’t let go, even after a long, long time… that feeling where no matter how much I do, I can’t get over it. I don’t know how to describe it…” He choked, as he tried to express his feelings. Although his father’s education level isn’t very high, but before leaving, he still left two words for Kezman and his two brothers – 「You can only be brothers in this life, not in the afterlife」and「You can’t do everything perfectly, but as long as you’ve got passion then it’s worth it」. ” I found out later that my father actually loved us very much, but he was not good at expressing it, and neither were we at the time. Some things are learned only after you have passed it. ” When his father passed away, Kezman had a terrible funeral experience. The funeral was handled the traditional casket shop, because his mother had no similar experience and the grieving family did not have any initiative, he was led around by the nose, and the bill amounted to much higher than the originally negotiated package price. “ The funeral expenses of nearly 30,000 ringgit was a huge burden for our family’s financial situation at the time. My mother was originally just a housewife, but suddenly she had to take up a livelihood to bring up three brothers. We were in debt, life was difficult, and a lot of grievances. ” This experience left a mark on his life, yet it created the empathy he has for his family today. Something he hadn’t notice.
The funeral is about the person in the coffin, not the ‘steps‘ of the ceremony
As a funeral care consultant, Kezman is the first person that family members come into contact with when their relatives are confirmed deceased, besides the medical staff. During funerals, burials, cremation, and the subsequent prayer ceremonies, the family will be accompanied and advised by him throughout the process.
” In the past, funerals must follow existing procedures and fixed patterns, such as kneeling and crying, etc… But for me, my responsibility is to break the so-called ‘steps‘, show how the funeral should be carried out and place the ability to choose with the family, while I play the role of providing options. ” ” Many people have mistaken the protagonist of the funeral. Everyone is led by religion. Whatever the religious master or leader says, no one will dare to go against it, because they can’t, and they can go along with it. When you have absolute power, interests are inevitably involved. ” What Kezman wants to express is that the protagonist of the funeral is the person lying in the coffin, and the most important thing in the funeral is what the family wants to do for the departed: ” It’s not about letting others lead, but what you want to do for him yourself? Do you want to? What is it that you keep in your heart? “
For him, the two most critical parts of a funeral are the beginning and the end. Nowadays, funerals are no longer limited to a fixed ritual, and many funeral care consultants will provide customized options for family members, and strive to achieve complete satisfaction.
” In the past, before the end of the funeral, the emcee would read the thank-you speech on behalf of the family, but the thank-you speech read by the emcee carries no emotion. I usually encourage family members to stand up and speak their hearts out and participate in the farewell ceremony. ” 「 I’m sorry, I love you 」is the most common sentence he has heard in countless farewell ceremonies. Maybe in the last journey of life, in addition to expressing love and regret, everything else is no longer important. ” I’ve been in the business for so long, so what do I do if I meet the relatives beside the grieving family that point and give their own advice? ” He said with a smile: subdue them. During the funeral process of the host family, it is inevitable that some relatives around him will express their own views on the funeral, and even question the ceremonial elements. He once thought that such nosy people would be difficult to handle, but with the improvement of professional knowledge and accumulation of experience, it’s not a problem for him. ” The premise is that funeral care consultants have solid professional knowledge and can explain the origin of ceremonial elements, not only to make things easier to handle, but also to educate the public. ” ” For example, everyone has always heard ‘ seniors can’t send-off the young ‘, but why is that so? The reason is because this is a protective mechanism. In the past, when the husband suddenly dies, the elderly wife will be experiencing high emotional intensity and crying heartbreakingly. So because there is worry that the grieving person’s body will not be able to handle it, this mechanism was set up where the wife cannot be in the same room with the husband’s body. I will not force the family members to do something like that with a pushy attitude, but first tell the family the meaning behind these rituals, and then leave it to the family members to judge and decision for themselves. “
Grief isn’t necessarily the main theme of funerals: ” That year, I witnessed the most romantic funeral “
When Kezman entered the industry, it was not because of lofty ideals or sense of mission, but simply because he felt that the profession of funeral care consultants was relatively unpopular, yet it paid a good salary.
” Why did you enter the industry? Because you’re poor! ” He replied without hesitation. After thinking about it, he continued: ” In this industry, people who can do it, will do it for a long time… ” Customizing the funeral according to the traditional process, the farewell ceremony was held the night before the funeral, and the family members told the life of the departed in mourning, which was inspired by Kezman from the most romantic funeral.
The departed was a wife and mother who died of colon cancer. As early as ten years ago, she found out that she had cancer. As the head of her husband’s family, she suddenly lost her direction and did not know how to continue her life whilst raising three young children. The husband prayed to heaven for ten years: “I’m not greedy, just please give my wife another ten years, and let us accompany the children to grow up together.” The year when his wife died was exactly ten years.
The night before the funeral, her husband asked Kezman to set up a microphone and let him say a few words. He calmly recounted how he met and fell in love with his wife, and the process of fighting the cancer. When he talked about his prayers to heaven, all the relatives and friends who came to the funeral were moved to tears. There are no poetic words, no show of sadness, but only touching words. At that moment, Kezman realised that in the face of the death of his relatives, family members should not only be bystanders in the funeral, but participants in it. If funerals could be planned in advance, how would you like your funeral to be carried out?
*Original article first appeared in 访问 The Interview . Click Here
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