When Someone Dies

IMG_0970One of my colleagues’ grandmother died recently. The illness came on suddenly, but my colleague was able to travel home in time for a last visit.

Following Mongolian custom, all of us in the office contributed money for the family. This is to help with funeral expenses and also is a way to acknowledge the family’s loss. When the colleague returned to the office, she showed me that she was wearing her grandmother’s earrings that were a last gift and a set of Buddhist prayer beads. Like a rosary, the beads help count prayers; saying the prayers three times a day will help the deceased person’s soul on its path.

Later she came by my desk with a small bag. Inside was tea, milk, soap, matches and small candles that she described as religious candles to light the soul’s path. This was not a gift, she explained, it’s customary for the bereaved family to give something back to all those who had contributed funds following a death. I asked about what is given, are these items symbolic or does each family decide what to give? Each family decides, and these things are typical for her family, but milk often is included. “Mongolians respect milk, so milk is given. Also matches.”

Symbolic, practical, maintaining community ties — I am lucky to be part of this.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Post navigation

3 thoughts on “When Someone Dies

  1. Joan and Wally MacDonald

    Thanks for this blog. It gives a window into the attitudes re dying/death. Seems somewhat serene. Perhaps that’s true for the death of elderly? And for children or younger people, I wonder how different.

  2. Hard to say. This was particularly sad because my colleague had been raised by her grandmother, and the grandmother was disabled most of her adult life, so they took care of each other for years. Part of the difficulty for the family was that the grandchildren had all moved to the city, away from the rural family home, so they were scattered and not nearby.

  3. I love this post. Very moving.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Ms. Muslamic

Islamic Feminism, Postcolonialism, Pop Culture, Ray Guns and Creeping Sharia

Hye Rachel

Give me all the lamajoon you have. What I'm worried you heard was "give me a lot of lamajoon." What I said was, give me all the lamajoon you have.

Judds in Mongolia

Living and Learning in the Land of the Blue Sky


Expat life and travels in Mongolia

Interfaith Ramadan

Expat life and travels in Mongolia

To Mongolia with Love

The views expressed on this blog do not reflect the opinion of the US Peace Corps or the United States Government

Dedicated to Durians

Malaysian Durian Lover's Reference Site

Cover Mongolia

Expat life and travels in Mongolia

Help Each Other Out

Expat life and travels in Mongolia


Expat life and travels in Mongolia


follow me to the ends of the earth...

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: