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監製:HA Kwai Cheong


Death is impartial, either to the poor or to the bigwigs, it is inescapable. Although everyone rationally understands that Death will come visit sooner or later, it is challenging in real life to live with no regrets and to die in peace. The busy working Hong Kong people in particular, have their energy all drained just to cope with their lives, leaving them with no mental power to dwell on the issue of death. In the end, people are usually overwhelmed at Death’s door. Regardless of the hectic lives of Hong Kong people, Death is never considerate of our schedules; yet, Death is not always formidable as He has witnessed all separations in life and partings at death, which fill Him with compassion and solicitude. If you are brave enough to ask, He is more than willing to answer all your questions on death. He will tell you, “The greatest loss in life is not death, but to live a life of mere existence.”

The nine episodes of “Questioning the Death” seek to break the taboos surrounding death, and to explore the culture of death, life and death education, hospice care, bereavement support, the practitioners in the funeral trade, etc. in Hong Kong and other Chinese societies, thereby provoking people to ponder over death, so as to understand life through death.

最新

LATEST
01/10/2016
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Are You Ready?

We make our decisions in our lives, how about after our death? Is it infelicitous to discuss death when we are still alive, or is it something to discuss with ease?

The HKDI DESIS Lab attempts to connect the theme of life and death to its design and organises design activities, in which elderlies are invited to share their opinions on ageing, death and after-death arrangements in a relaxed atmosphere. One of the activities organised is to design Living Diamond jewellery pieces for the participants. Living Diamond refers to the transformation of the deceased’s ashes to crystalline pieces through technology. Allowing the bereaved to wear jewellery pieces designed using these Living Diamonds becomes one of the options in after-death arrangements.

Katie, a designer in her early twenties, talks with many elderlies in the course of preparing the activities, in which she has learnt many stories of life. This time, she meets two sisters, Li-yun and Hing-yun. They take care of each other but at the same time live their own fulfilling lives. They both face death peacefully and such magnanimity further inspires Katie in her work of designing Living Diamond.

Living Diamond can be one of the options in after-death arrangements. Whatever your choice is, may be what matters most is allowing you to discuss with your families in advance and be prepared, thereby offering autonomy and relief.

重溫

CATCHUP
08 - 10
2016
RTHK 31
  • Are You Ready?

    Are You Ready?

    We make our decisions in our lives, how about after our death? Is it infelicitous to discuss death when we are still alive, or is it something to discuss with ease?

    The HKDI DESIS Lab attempts to connect the theme of life and death to its design and organises design activities, in which elderlies are invited to share their opinions on ageing, death and after-death arrangements in a relaxed atmosphere. One of the activities organised is to design Living Diamond jewellery pieces for the participants. Living Diamond refers to the transformation of the deceased’s ashes to crystalline pieces through technology. Allowing the bereaved to wear jewellery pieces designed using these Living Diamonds becomes one of the options in after-death arrangements.

    Katie, a designer in her early twenties, talks with many elderlies in the course of preparing the activities, in which she has learnt many stories of life. This time, she meets two sisters, Li-yun and Hing-yun. They take care of each other but at the same time live their own fulfilling lives. They both face death peacefully and such magnanimity further inspires Katie in her work of designing Living Diamond.

    Living Diamond can be one of the options in after-death arrangements. Whatever your choice is, may be what matters most is allowing you to discuss with your families in advance and be prepared, thereby offering autonomy and relief.

    01/10/2016
  • Who resonates with death?

    Who resonates with death?

    No matter in which form a funeral is conducted, music is always involved. Music remedies the silence in funerals, and covers the wail of grief as well as alleviates the fear of death. However, some people’s close encounter to death arouses an interest in Death, and even pushes them to delve into and explore death.

    “Evocation” is one of the few local bands who play the music style of “Death Metal”. Ah-Ho, one of the band members, was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years back. Fortunately, he survived after receiving bone marrow transplantation. After realising his “escape from death”, Ah-Ho has a drastic shift in personality. Tomy, the lead singer and composer, is also influenced by Ah-Ho and gradually gains insight into life and death. Realisation dispels fears, and even generates interest in death, then leads the band to express personal views and understanding about death through songs. The band also brings evocation streamers and amulets on stage to bring the mysterious Daoist tone in their performance.

    Music is an important element in Daoist funeral rites. During the rites of pacifying souls and breaking Hell-gate, Chiu-musicians accompany the tireless paeans of the ritual spiritualists with melodious tone of Yehu, to admonish the wandering souls and lead them to repentance, thereby indoctrinating and salvaging them. Besides, Daoist music serves the psychotherapeutic function of comforting the bereaved relatives and friends.

    Unfortunately, the traditional Daoist funeral rites are fastidious and complicated, and most people nowadays find them incomprehensible and unacceptable. As a consequence, simplification becomes their inexorable fate. Whether the tradition can be preserved and inherited, is truly a question of worry.

    24/09/2016
  • Who stole my dearest?

    Who stole my dearest?

    Children are innocent and naive and they should be worry-free. What would they be concerned about then? Not having enough time to play? At worst, maybe failing in exams and getting scolded for it… When destiny brings home the menace of death, it is terrifying even for adults. So can you imagine what a child has to go through when this happens?

    A young father is diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer, and both the father and the mother decide to let their two daughters experience the father’s journey from initial recovery, to relapse, until he is informed to be beyond salvage. The daughters know every parts of their father’s journey of ailment and treatment, fragility and fears, bravery and tenacity, and the whole family has been poised for the father’s eternal departure since he fell ill years ago. Cancer eventually takes away the father’s young life. The mother, Fanny, let the daughters see the photos of their father anytime they want, and allows them to use what their father left behind, and to do their father’s favourite sports. They dwell in remembrance when memories engulf; dive in grief when sadness invades; revel in joy when happiness visits. Neither Fanny nor her daughters fear death, as it is a part of their lives. They lead their normal lives, which take them to the father’s arms of affection as always. Although the departure of the father brings emptiness, it does not mean death is a specter. The daughters learn from their mother to cherish the love of those around them, so as to develop a sense of security and emancipation.

    The future is always uncertain in a home with a patient. Min-yao just starts primary one, and his mother needs to visit the hospital very often for her cancer relapse. Min-yao’s mother is too sick to take care of Min-yao as usual, and his father works alone to support the family while being preoccupied by his wife’s condition, and at the same time takes on the duties of a mother. Having witnessed such enormous pressure, Min-yao is unavoidably worried and fearful. Min-yao is receiving bereavement support in Tuen Mun Hospital. Every time he mentions his mother, escapism, anger and fear follow, but at the same time his self-reliance grows. He becomes more considerate, and enjoys spending time with his parents more. The intimidation to the patient seems to haste the growth of children forcibly, and Min-yao needs opportunities of expression, and support and recognition from adults more than ever in this time of ordeal. Min-yao’s parents give tremendous love even under this dilemma and pressure.

    Only love is invincible!

    17/09/2016
  • What does Death mean?

    What does Death mean?

    Cells in your body are renewed everyday, some live for a few days; some die in a matter of hours. In a few years, most cells in your body will die and be replaced by new ones; yet, amazingly, you remain the same living person.Death might not be as absolute as you think.It was once believed that someone is dead as soon as the heart stopped beating. It wasn’t until the 60s when the concept of brain death gained prominence. Nowadays, scientists are searching for ways to replace brain cells in order to extend human life, and computer engineers are even looking into ways to upload your mind to a computer device.Death is constantly being redefined.
    You attempt to avert death and search for ways to immortality, but then you realise, it is not the body that you will miss most.Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes once said, “When we die, what we lose is not the future but the past.”So what is death? What does it mean to die? When exactly are we dead?We traverse the city, paying visits to various people, attempting to find an answer through philosophy, science and art.

    10/09/2016
  • How to Conduct Our Last Ceremony?

    How to Conduct Our Last Ceremony?

    In our daily life, we seldom talk about funeral trade, reason being the feeling of apprehension. As such, people avoid touching upon the topic. However, when friends and relatives pass away, people would rush to find coffin shops or practitioners from the funeral trade to well arrange the last ceremony for the deceased.

    For many people, the funeral trade denotes a sense of alienation, and we know less than little about the practitioners. Through the introduction from four members of the trade, Richard, Seto Oi-lai, Mr. Ng and his niece Ah-Ho, we will gain more insight into the knowledge of funeral services.

    The funeral trade usually takes the tradition of filial inheritance, and Mr. Ng and Ah-Ho are living evidence of this. However, the other two protagonists in this episode, Richard and Seto Oi-lai, decide to enter this trade because of the eternal departure of their families and friends.

    Richard wishes more people would be exposed to the sensitive topic of death, and this is why he often travels to different places, such as elderly homes, community centres, schools, etc. to expound the issues of death.

    Seto Oi-lai is Richard’s partner as well as his mentor. Back when Richard first stepped foot in this trade, he used to work under Seto Oi-lai. They opened up funeral courses more than a year ago to enhance the transparency of the trade, so as to let more people understand this industry.

    Mr. Ng’s family undertakes the business of coffin shops, and he naturally takes on their mantle and already has decades of experiences in this trade. Ah-Ho, Mr. Ng’s niece, also engages in the funeral trade naturally and he is the new generation in the trade. Mr. Ng talks about his work with fervour, and his depictions reflect, the vicissitudes of florists, funeral halls, cemeteries and columbarium. Richard and Seto Oi-lai, on the other hand, talk about the changes of coffins and funeral parlours.

    The four members of the funeral trade hold the same philosophy, that is, to complete ceremonies for the deceased wholeheartedly, to soothe the grief of the families brought about by the departure of the deceased, and to allow the deceased to depart with dignity as well as to bless them with sincerity.

    03/09/2016
  • Do spiritual remedies cure fear?

    Do spiritual remedies cure fear?

    Everyone will die someday, but the feeling of confronting death is beyond the understanding of many.

    That is why indescribable emotions such as fear, depression, helplessness and vulnerability are often produced among people with serious illness. The master of thanatology, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross believes that people with serious illness have to go through the five stages of grief model, namely denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, before they can confront death peacefully and reach a state of serenity. It is understandable that, except for fellows travelling on the same path, the emotional fluctuation of people with serious illness could be incomprehensible even to their closest ones. Advices from outsiders and mighty philosophy are all easier said than done. Insomnia and depression even aggravate the patients’ disease and bring them torment. It is said that “the only cure for mental illness is spiritual remedies”, and this is why medical and psychological treatment are gradually gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine in the past decade and they are combined with clinical psychology to provide support for patients confronting death and their families to meet this challenge.

    A psychological support group formed by clinical psychologists is established in the Oncology Department in Tuen Mun Hospital, and the patients of the group, Fong-fong, Pui-wen and Yuet-ying, have experienced or are experiencing the intimidation and horror of death. Fong-fong was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago, and was considered incurable at first. With her tenacious willpower and her faith, and a strong bond with her family, she has fought all this time. However, with her family in mind, and having considered that her husband and son are carrying too much vulnerability on their shoulders, Fong-fong always dissimulates and conceals her fears. Pui-wen is also a believer and she is diagnosed with cancer unexpectedly. At first, she believes that death is already a solved puzzle to her and plans to give up her treatment at one point; however, she finally discovers the inexorability of fears before death when her condition exacerbates, and this is when she truly experiences the strong feeling of attachment between her and her husband after decades of marriage. Yuet-ying is the lucky one in the group. She has now basically fully recovered and still actively participates in the volunteer work of the group. After a visit at death’s door, she understands not only the value of life but also the communication with families in a completely different light than what she believed before she fell ill. Dr. Ho, the group facilitator, utilises sessions of individual counselling, group activities, family counselling, etc., with the hope to finding means to vent Fong-fong’s and Pui-wen’s emotions, and to help them hold fast to a proper attitude towards life, thereby facing the unpredictable future in life. Death is inevitable, but could we overcome the fears that come along with it? Is it always true that we only realise what matters most in life when death approaches?

    27/08/2016
  • Do I still look good?

    Do I still look good?

    Funeral cosmetology and porcelain photos for the deceased are both crucial parts in the funeral trade and they both signify similar meanings. The former leaves the deceased with a peaceful and tidy appearance to farewell their families and friends in order to console their grief; while the latter leaves the images of the deceased on a tiny piece of porcelain forever, which serves to remind the descendants of their loved ones and to allow them to pay homage and remember the deceased.

    Most people fear and detest the funeral trade, but a young lad, Tin Yak chooses to take a funeral cosmetology course in a funeral institute in the mainland, and becomes one of the few male funeral cosmetologists in the trade. Tin Yak has no fears of sarcastic comments and contempt from others, and is resolved to develop his career in the trade with dedication and high commitment.

    Master Lai has remarkable experience in the production of porcelain photos after decades of work in this industry, and he is one of the last masters of porcelain photos. He recognises the significance of porcelain photos and all his products are therefore produced with great meticulosity, so as to ensure customer satisfaction. Master Lai has also been providing free training in recent years to make contribution in resolving the succession problem in the trade.

    The jobs of Tin Yak and Master Lai are not popular in many people’s eyes, but our farewell ceremonies will come with flaws without their professions. Their unrecognised contribution is hence deserving of more respect.

    20/08/2016
  • How can I tell her?

    How can I tell her?

    “Death” is a topic of taboo for many people. However, whether you are willing to face it or not, most of us understand its inevitability deep down our hearts. Yet, “death” might be an abstract concept beyond the understanding of persons with intellectual disabilities (PIDs), especially for those with mild to severe intellectual disabilities.

    According to government statistics, the number of PIDs in Hong Kong accounts for about 1-1.4% of the total population. In many circumstances, PIDs are being taken care of by their parents or relatives, and strong bonds are therefore developed among them. With the advancement of medical technologies, the life span of PIDs is longer than that in the past, meanwhile, their relatives age, fall into illness more often and even die. Some believe that PIDs do not understand or have no feelings about life and death, and therefore choose not to tell them the truth even when their closest family members are bed-ridden or pass away. Is this the appropriate way to handle the matter?

    This episode records the story of the 32-year-old Sze-kei, who has mild intellectual disabilities, and how her father, mother and social worker help her understand and prepare for imminent separation from her mother in the limited time between the diagnosis of her mother’s advanced cancer and her eternal departure.

    13/08/2016
  • Would you know how to live if  you do not understand death?

    Would you know how to live if you do not understand death?

    A post-eighties designer has changed his profession to embalmer. After ten years in this profession and handling thousands of bodies, he has already witnessed the secrecy behind the veil of death. However, it is not until when he faces the eternal departure of his close friends and loved ones that he realises his ignorance of life and death. Unfortunately, life and death education has not gained popularity in Hong Kong! If one wants to gain insight into death, a flight to Taiwan might be a viable way for learning.

    “If you do not know about life, how you could understand death?” Chinese traditional concepts tell us not to question life and death. Although both Taiwan and Hong Kong are Chinese societies, Taiwan is one stride ahead as life and death education has been put in places more than a decade ago: the topic of life and death is included in the regular curriculum of secondary education; professors in universities discuss death using the movies of interests for the young people; stories can be told to children using picture books; outside classroom, Death Café welcomes all strangers to discuss life and death freely while indulging in a cup of coffee.

    Taiwanese are gradually breaking the taboos of death, and to one’s surprise, funeral director has become a popular profession at the moment. Youngsters in their mid-teens, who study the specialized course of funerary, first have an experiential lesson of death, wherein after lying down in a coffin and shedding tears, they come to realise the finitude of youth and life and to be grateful that they can move forward and cherish their lives.

    Not only does life and death education discuss death, it also seeks to explore life. If you are also brave enough to ask, Death will tell you “Would you know how to live if you do not understand death?” By knowing death, you are able to understand life.

    06/08/2016
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