Wow. We have had quite a month. Fran and I decided it was time for a break, so we left our families at home, convinced Rachel and Caro that yes they would be fine to run the business without us, and we headed off to the beautiful island of Bali.
Little did we know how perfect our timing was to be! It just so happened that we arrived during the week that mass cremations were happening, including a Royal cremation taking place from the palace in Ubud, where we were staying. The community was abuzz, with cremation preparations taking place in every nook and cranny. Hopefully I can atttach some pictures of the busy-ness that we witnessed – it was simply amazing. Three months work went into the cremation tower for the Royal cremation – a tower that was 30 metres high – and every inch was lovingly decorated by hand. The entire tower was carried on a bamboo platform carried by 100 men from the palace to the cemetery, over 1 km away. There the disinterred remains are placed into a huge replica bull, and burned. The ashes are later scattered at sea. Even the smaller villages had days and days of work going into their slightly more modest cremations – each person being cremated still had the replica bull for their bones to be placed in. The remains are dug up from the grave by the family – the person could have been buried there anything up to five years before and waiting for an auspicious date, or for a time when the family could afford a cremation. The bones are carefully cleaned by family, then placed in a small dwelling awaiting the cremation.
It seems the entire island was engaged in some kind of cremation activity, so there was plenty of opportunity for us to stop and ask questions, take pictures, find out more and people were so generous with their time. When they found out that we were funeral directors, they without exception immediately exclaimed “Oh, good karma!”. Phew!
Aside from our cremation experiences in Bali, we had time for plenty of adventures, Most days we got up early, had some breakfast, put our backpacks on and headed off, exploring villages, rice paddies, countryside, talking to people and generally doing as we pleased. It was fabulous and we have come home with renewed energy for our work and for our families. Only now do we realise how tired we were before the trip. We have had funerals every day since our return, and everything seems to be so much more manageable.
We want to thank Rachel and Caro AGAIN for doing such a fantastic job of running State of Grace while we were gone, and coping with a very busy time with quite a few families to look after at once, Thank you, two wonderful women, we are lucky to have you.