Before I leave the subject of “Death in a
altogether, please let me share some additional thoughts and emphasis; an
addendum to the previous
two posts, if you will. Thai-Lao Village
Our front yard Mak Mee (Jackfruit) tree.
First, what I have described is certainly surface observations. I just don’t know enough, yet, to tell much about what’s underneath. If you’d like more detail on the deeper aspects of Thai funerals, please follow the several separate links in the second post about death, the links marked “cremation.”
Secondly, what I have described pertains to our village and I would hazard to say they are pretty much similar to other Isaan villages. However, the rites, ceremonials and formal observances in the countryside are quite different – more rudimentary, I guess you could say – than those in the cities or even the larger towns. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finances, but the cultures are slightly different, too. Again, you can get a good idea of the contrasts between country and city by visiting “cremation” links in “Death 2,” my previous post.
Third and lastly, what has struck me the most about all this is that death in this part of the world strikes all ages almost equally. As a retired American expat, I am getting used to people my age and older “dying on me.” It is a sad but fully natural part of the aging process. However, the deaths that have touched me in 2012/2555 have also ranged from a young calf getting accidentally kicked by its mother and never recovering; to the shooting death and subsequent burning of the body ostensibly to erase evidence of a guy 25 years my junior, who I was becoming friends with; to an even younger guy in his twenties, just down the road from our home, who died from Weil’s Disease (Leptospirosis), which is basically a bacterial infection.
The expression “Life is Cheap” here, comes to mind, but it’s not really that, I think. Given any sampling of 400-500 people in any given “non-dangerous” area, probably death’s impact is pretty much the same. It’s just that living in a small community, you know more about the deaths around you because you are more interconnected with each other.
It’s like “We’re all in this together.” And as I wrote previously, the death of one is treated like a death in the family, whether that person is a blood relative or not.