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Tea Leaves

In praise of Thai funerals

Inclusivity of the event is particularly valuable to those grieving

Monks connect mourners with a white thread that is attached to the front fender of a pickup truck hearse. (Photos by Dominic Faulder) 

It may be an odd compliment, but I think Thais do some of the world's best funerals. That is only an impression, of course, because most of the non-Thai funerals I have attended were in the U.K. Many were in magnificent church settings, with selected readings, poignant eulogies and stirring music. British funerals are often preceded by wakes and followed by receptions. The best of these are parties the deceased would have thoroughly enjoyed -- gatherings of treasured people.

But British funerals can also be grim. I recently joined a Zoom funeral of the COVID-19 era. Rows of tense, gray faces stared from my laptop as a beloved uncle was interred in Scotland with just two members of his family present, a priest and piper.

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