Gaijin Smash

A Death in the Family

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on June 24, 2005

While cleaning my room, I found an old memo distributed to the schools in Kyoto Prefecture. It noted that two students had been killed in separate bike accidents, and urged teachers to stress the importance of bike safety onto the students. The Japanese are big on anonymity, so the students were identified only as “Student A” and “Student B.” “Student A,” a Junior High sannensei, was biking home, when he crossed an intersection at the green light. A driver turning right into the intersection, entirely too fast, slammed right into him. He was thrown off his bike and landed hard on his head. He was rushed to the hospital, but nothing could be done.
The memo gave no further information about Student A, but I know who Student A was. He was one of my students.

I remember going into work that day. I had barely made contact with the chair at my desk when the principal came over to tell me that one of this school’s students had been killed in a traffic biking accident. I was shocked. Other teachers came into the teachers’ room with their usual cheery “Ohayo Gozaimasu!” only to have someone rush over and inform them of the news. I watched as their countenances instantly changed, much as mine must have.
There was an assembly that morning. The ichinensei and ninensei entered the gym solemnly, some in tears. Then the sannensei came in, and they were all in tears. The principal explained what happened, and stressed the importance of bike safety. He urged every student to please take care when going home today, and every other day. The students were dismissed, but the sannensei and the sannensei teachers stayed behind for an additional talk. I’m not a sannensei teacher; I don’t belong to any year grouping. But my legs didn’t feel like taking me out of the gym, so I stayed behind.
The head sannensei teacher, your typical Japanese male, tried to get up and give the “Let’s all do our best in the face of adversity” speech, but he couldn’t get three words through it without choking up and crying almost uncontrollably. Although I’d heard the boy’s name, it wasn’t a name I was familiar with. I scanned the sannensei, trying to find familiar faces, trying to figure out which one was missing. After the speech, the sannensei were dismissed, and they left the gym in a virtual daze. One girl however was completely wrecked. She was a crying mess on her knees, and just simply couldn’t be moved. Two of her friends tried to get her to stand, but they didn’t really have the heart for it either, so they just fell and cried beside her. I later found out that this girl was the boy’s girlfriend, and that he had been riding her bike at the time of the accident.
Afterwards, I quietly mentioned to the principal that I didn’t recognize the student’s name, and asked to see a picture. He took me into his office, pulled out the class photo, and pointed out the boy. It was a familiar face. He wasn’t one of the students I regularly talked or joked around with, but I did remembered having class with him. I was saddened at the loss, absolutely, but unfortunately I didn’t feel the loss quite like the other teachers and students did. I felt guilty for not even knowing his name. In a country where we are defined literally as “outsiders,” this was a moment when I felt the most outside.
This unfortunately wasn’t my first experience with death in school. When I was a high school freshman (same grade level as Japanese Junior High sannensei), one of my classmates accidentally shot himself in the head with his father’s gun. The next day at school, before I even heard the news, something just felt wrong. He wasn’t one of my friends, but we were classmates. That day everyone just kind of drifted through the day in a daze. Many people returned home, and counseling was available for those who couldn’t.
He was in my 7th period science class. I’d been dreading it all day. When I got there, the teacher echoed my sentiments. Very few students actually went to that class. At first some people shared their favorite stories about him, which eventually turned into a discussion about death and mortality. And everyone avoided looked at the empty chair. Now, 10 years later in Japan, I’d have to relive that day.
I thought the students might be sent home and classes cancelled. Instead the day proceeded as normal. When one of my English teachers tried to discuss the sannensi’s lesson for the day, I stared back, probably with disbelief all over my face. “We’re still going to do the sannensei’s class?” She looked at me blankly and said yes, as if I’d asked something as obvious as, “What color is the sky?” She explained that we’d be playing a consumer game, where the sannensei would pretend to buy and sell various goods. I prepared myself for what I figured was going to be my worst class. Ever.
The sannensei were as I expected them to be – stunned. One boy, a friend of the victim, just stared off into space. I couldn’t imagine trying to do a fun game activity… but that’s what I had to do. I went to the front and explained the game, without my usual animated movements and theatrics. I just wished the class would hurry up and end.
Much to my complete and total surprise, the students really got into the game. Dare I say, enjoyed it even. They milled about, carefully buying and selling goods, and figuring out the best way to manage their money. The boy who had been staring off into space…he and his group were rather good at it. They had amassed quite a monopoly, and at one point more or less kicked back and exploited the market for every penny. Kids were smiling and laughing.
In fact, by the afternoon, things were completely back to normal. Kids ran and shouted and laughed in the hallways. The teachers went on about the weather or sports or whatever other pointless banter would fill the air. Even the head sannensei teacher, who could barely choke out his speech earlier, was smiling and joking around as he always does. The difference between that morning and that afternoon was so stark that I almost felt as if the morning never happened, or I’d somehow ended up at a different school without noticing it.
While in class, I said to my English teacher, “Wow… I wasn’t expecting this game to go over well at all, but it looks like they’re actually enjoying it.” She turned to me and said, “Yes…it’s much better to see their smiling faces, isn’t it?” It wasn’t what I’d expected. I expected crying and mourning and grief all day, as I had experienced back when I was their age. It had struck me as strange at first, but then my English teacher’s words came back to me – their smiling faces are much better. Why shouldn’t they be smiling?
Later in the week, my English teacher came over to me at my desk. “We were supposed to have English fourth and fifth period,” she said, “but we’re going to have to cancel fourth because the sannensei are going to the boy’s funeral. But they’ll be back in time for fifth, so we’ll play a game.” …Great, I thought at the time. Upon going to the class, I found the boy’s girlfriend sitting in the back. …Even better. But much like before, they got right into things, and were smiling and happy. In particular, the boy’s girlfriend really wanted to win. Even the group of boys who don’t particularly like English, and tend to sit back, cross their arms, and give the bare minimum, somehow managed to be good at this game and were winning. My English teacher used a few subtle ways to cheat and give the girls’ group the victory. “I really wanted her (the boy’s girlfriend) to win this one, and those boys always have a bad attitude,” she’d said later. The girl seemed absolutely thrilled to have won, even though there were no prizes awarded.
I asked some Japanese friends about this later, and they said it was just the Japanese way of dealing with death. Life goes on. The victim wouldn’t have wanted them to be sad all day over his death. They find comfort in returning to their everyday lives. It doesn’t mean that the boy is forgotten, far from it. It’s more like, a respect of the life he lead, by continuing to lead it. Much like many other aspects of this country, it was something I had a hard time understanding…but this time I got the feeling I didn’t really need to understand it.
When I think back to that day, I remember the boy who could only stare off into space, and the girl who couldn’t even pick herself up off the floor, but then I also remember them smiling and happy, laughing with friends, playing games and having fun. I like the latter memory much better. And I think that’s what “Student A” would have wanted too.


42 Responses

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  1. Cloak said, on September 20, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Touching story Azrael. It’s interesting to observe the ways different societies handle loss. In America, we have at least a few days of mourning, and years, if not a lifetime, of grief, especially if the person was close to us.
    In middle school, these two neighborhood bullies always picked on me and a few of my friends. One day at school, the principal announced that a student had killed himself. It turned out to be one of the bullies. Talk about mixed emotions. This guy was literally…gone…yet I was relieved and saddened at the same time.
    His mother found him hanging from his top bunkbed with a belt.

  2. Arthur said, on September 20, 2006 at 8:48 am

    A very touching story. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. jimmymango said, on September 20, 2006 at 10:30 am

    This is right up there with Moeko and the other two girls. Really good stuff. I really like reading about Japanese life alot more than Kancho (although a timely dose of that is good too.)

  4. Kerii-chan said, on September 20, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Oh crap this made me start crying all over again T.T In July, one of my friends and his brother were shot in their sleep by their dad, who then commited suicide. Not one of my closest friends, but still someone I considered a friend. And now I feel this overwhelming guilt because I don’t even think he knew he was my friend. Even after 2 months I still continuously cry about it all the time. I wish I had the ability to get back to normal life like your students T.T

  5. JP said, on September 20, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    Best story yet…
    My friend took his own life in my 2nd year of university – if only I had the wisdom of these Japanese teenagers while dealing with the tragedy.

  6. Dave said, on September 20, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    A very moving and well-written story.
    Respect to you for that.

  7. Chase said, on September 20, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for that story. I hope nothing like that happens at any of your schools ever again.

  8. Sage said, on September 20, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    This story reminds me of something that happened about a year and a half ago, my senior year of high school. There was a boy in the junior class who had sarcoma, and had as long as I’d known him. He was very involved and charismatic, so he was pretty well-known. Not to mention our senior and junior classes that year were particularly close-knit.
    Every year, the junior class put on a party for the senior class. It’s a whole fancy-dress, formalized affair, a bit like prom but much smaller and probably classier. The morning of the party, one of the counselors came in and told us he had passed away the night before. The entire class was completely destroyed, as was pretty much everyone else in the magnet.
    That night, his best friend came up and said that he would have wanted us all to have fun and enjoy the party, which he was involved in the planning of. And we did.
    That kid was an inspiration, so completely full of life and so involved, despite the terrible things that were happening inside of him…

  9. Bethany said, on September 21, 2006 at 1:45 am

    Just recently, two boys who had been students at my highschool died within two days of each other. They’d been close friends. One was shot at a party, the other was in a motorcycle accident. The first’s younger brother is a senior at my school at the moment…for the first few days, he wandered around looking lost, but I finally saw him smiling again and it was very uplifting, touching, and sad, all at the same time.
    I never knew either of the boys personally, but I know their friends..their siblings…and I certainly feel their loss. You couldn’t possible have posted this particular story at a better time than this.

  10. Jian said, on September 21, 2006 at 3:14 am

    Hi, that was a great piece of writing.
    we dont get a lot of teenage deaths here in Malaysian schools. it has never happened to me at least. and i hope it never will. but i think if it ever happens, i would still react like those american kids by grieving all day. i guess the japanese society think very differently from us. In this matter however, i wish i could think the way they do.

  11. SilverOokami said, on September 21, 2006 at 3:48 am

    Hey Az,
    We haven’t heard anything from ya in a while on the Outpostnine site. I imagine you’re busy trying to get your life together now that you’re done with JET and on to other (better?) things .
    Thanks for the story. Looking at some of the comments other’s have posted, it seems that many people go through times like this, which is sad, but by posting it and having them post their own comments shows that even though we go through rough stuff in life we are not alone (I too have a sad story, but I’ve shared it with enough people and have lived with it for most of my life, so I’ll not bother with it).
    Anyway, when I first read this a little over a year ago I though “man, that sucks”, but that was about it. Now that I too am a JET (in Wakayama), and have been teaching for a year, and actually KNOW many of my students, I cannot imagine what it would be like to loose one of them, especially since, no matter what you do, you never really get to know all of them. There are always those kids who you recognize, but don’t know their names (I would know, I have 6 schools).
    Anyway, again, thanx for the story, and I hope you keep up the good work and to see more postings of your (mis)adventures

  12. JC said, on September 21, 2006 at 4:16 am

    C’mon, Az! What happened to HAADO GEI and the like? What’s up with this? I’m going into withdraw from reruns on TV and then this? T_T
    Hoping you come back soon with more stories of Gayness that is Hard or 1,000 more years of pain,

  13. Krystal said, on September 21, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    When my friend killed himself this past January, all of us upperclassmen were devasted. He was my boyfriend’s best friend, so naturally we spent a lot of time together, but jeeeesus..When we got the news, it was like our whole world was rocked. Everyone spent the day in their own little worlds whispering about the good times..trying to remember every benign inside joke to preserve as much of his memory we could.
    While I was reading this, I could only think, “Man, they move on quick” but you’re right. Sure it’s ok to grieve, but why not be happy instead? There’s nothing to be ashamed of and that’s what I learned when my friend died: Just because your friend died doesn’t mean you need to.
    Great post.

  14. Wednesday said, on September 21, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Last week, one of my classmates I’d known for nearly eight years died in a terrible fluke accident. Even though he was attractive, popular, a football player, and student body president, he was always went out of his way to be friendly to everyone.
    It happened on a Saturday and by Sunday morning, nearly the entire senior class knew. That Monday was one of the hardest days of my life. However, as the day progressed everyone started to smile and laugh, just as you described in your story. I felt horrible, because it seemed like we were all forgetting about him too soon. I realized later that wasn’t the case, but reading your story helped reinforce the idea of respecting the life the person led “by continuing to live it.” This post couldn’t have been more timely: I’ve moved on enough to be able to appreciate it, but the tragedy is still close enough for your words to have real meaning.

  15. William said, on September 21, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    This seems like a dispassionate disjointed way of dealing with death to me. Student A? The boy had a name. It would be disrespectful not to speak it and acknowledge it. My cousin died in a car wreck when he wasnt much older than this boy. If he had been referred to simply as student X i dont think i could have contained myself. People have names. They had a life. Looking away and pretending it didnt happen doesnt change the fact that they were there and now they arent. Its no wonder nations missunderstand and go to war with eachother when our customs seem so inhuman to eachother.

  16. Justanothermom said, on September 21, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    When I first read this, I thought of someone I had just started getting to know in my freshman year of high school. She was hit by a car while walking across the street right by my father’s house (he was next to the house on that corner). I could totally relate to the feelings you had in high school; in fact, I had a lot of weird feelings about that whole situation, considering our p.e. lockers were right next to each other, and we had just started getting acquainted because of their proximity. Add to that the fact that my father lived so close to where it happened, and I might have been there to visit my dad when it happened, if it had been his weekend for a visit (I lived with Mom on the other side of town).
    Thinking about it, I’m amazed at how common the experience is to lose a classmate at that age, no matter how long ago it happened for any of us.

  17. Cee said, on September 22, 2006 at 12:03 am

    Very moving. And enlightening. We North Americans tend to overthink our emotions and overreact because of them ie. trying to jump into someone’s casket at a funeral, etc. Japanese society seems to have an excellent handle on it. Thanks for sharing this.

  18. Spirrett said, on September 22, 2006 at 6:05 am

    Hey Az, that was a really moving peice, and I want to say that although I’m fortunate not to have lost anyone in my family, or any friends, my best friend’s mother died not too long ago, and I was so proud to see him just dealing with it and getting on with life. I would like to think I could react the same way and I hope people will react like the kids at your school did when I die. I’m a long time fan of yours but this is my favourite entry just because it’s so emotive. This one shows how much strength there really is in people, and how much better life is not mourning someone’s death, but celebrating someone’s life.

  19. tui said, on September 22, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    My best friend killed himself almost two years ago. I was new to death, I didn’t know how to react. I wish I could just move on, but even though it’s gotten easier to think about now, it’s still overwhelms me. I think believing in heaven or an afterlife helps people deal. It sucks to think that there’s nothing. I don’t know what the Japanese believe, but that may be what helps them. As for the Student A/B thing, I think it’s more respectful, not less. I hate the way the media here (Canada) zooms in on the crying mother’s face etc. It’s so invasive.
    Nice writing. I’ll be back, Tui.

  20. Lukos said, on September 23, 2006 at 12:46 am

    You can remember someone and speak their name without makeing a circus out of it. Or makeing a fool of yourself. There are always extremes but i think its cold to reduce someone to a letter or number especially when its painfully obvious who it was.

  21. Azrael said, on September 23, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    As I said before, the Japanese are big on anonymity. Or at least, not spreading one’s business more than necessary. Sometimes when interviewing people for news stories, they don’t shoot their faces, or blur it out, and only refer to the person as “Friend of the victim/suspect” or “Person in the neighborhood” or such.
    The flier in question was given to schools all throughout Kyoto Prefecture. It was meant to stress the importance of bike safety. From the Japanese POV, there was no reason to use the kid’s name and spread the family’s business all over the prefecture. It’s not a matter of disrespecting the student’s life, but respecting the family’s privacy.

  22. Some Guy said, on September 23, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    I think this is one example of how Japanese culture is different from American culture, but not ‘weirder.’ In fact, it makes more sense than most things people do. It’s admirable that people can go on, doing what they do, and embrace life again rather than continuing to dwell on mortality.
    Since everyone else is sharing a story, I might as well. On September 11th, well, you know what happened. But the thing that happened that week that left the biggest impression on me was later on in the week, when I was driving–either later on the 11th or some time on the 12th, I don’t remember–and I finally found a radio station that was playing music instead of around-the-clock news coverage.
    They even took a moment in between songs to say, “To preserve some sense of normalcy during these events, Channel Z Radio will be continuing to bring you the latest and best new rock and alternative.”
    Much respect to that. Channel Z, you will be missed.

  23. Nick said, on September 24, 2006 at 3:49 am

    Its nice to know I’m not the only one that believes the best way to honor the dead is to continue your life. True its nice to be missed, but we all die and the last thing I would want is to be the reason my family is sad.

  24. Nathan said, on September 24, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    Great story. Easily one of your most interesting articles. Thank you for sharing it.
    I have a similar experience. I had had a wonderful English teacher my freshman year in high school. One Monday my junior year, he didn’t come to school. He had had AIDS for about eight years, and it had finally gotten the best of him on the previous Sunday. He died in the hospital surrounded by family.
    That Monday everybody was sad, everyone. Especially the students… But attendance was taken like normal, quizzes were issued, and homework was assigned.
    That is, unless you walked up to your teacher and made some crap up about how shook up you were. I didn’t understand. Something about using someone else’s death to get out of your math homework didn’t make sense to me. I was especially angered when none of these people showed up at his funeral.
    How could they have done something so ingenuine? They were too depressed to do homework, but too lazy to pay their last respects?

  25. jean said, on September 25, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    great story very touching.

  26. Emily said, on September 27, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Thank you. That really opened my eyes to how I have been feeling. Two weeks ago there was a shooting at Dawson college and I was there. It was a wednesday and I only went back to school the following wednesday. That whole week was torture having to re-live it in my head over and over. For days id cry and just wonder “why?”. I thought id never be able to go back to the place that was haunting my dreams but i did. And im glad i did too. Being around everyone who shared my experience and were feeling the same way i did was extremely comforting. Moving on together, as a whole, was exactly what I needed. I just wish I had known that before so I could have saved a week of my life. Your story really made it clear to me so thank you.

  27. Andrew_O said, on October 2, 2006 at 3:32 am

    A good story. Or recalling of events I should say. I, agreed definitely with the notion that people have their own way of dealing with lost.
    I’ve in the past had to deal with lost myself. It happened to be the same way the children and adults in your story were dealing with the sudden lost.
    However, I ended up merely suppressing the mourning and grief and pain of lost, much later feeling it like a detonated grenade I thought was a dud. What I mean to convey is that the students and teachers in your writing may have coped with the lost appropriately but on the same token they may just be dealing with the lost in the same way I was. If it is the latter then I hope they let it out (the grief) rather then having it come back to sting them unsuspectingly later in life.
    Didn’t want to sound like some Psycologist but there it is from my personal experiences.
    Great writing, great experience, keep ’em coming.

  28. Azrael Macool said, on October 9, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Hey, I’m a longtime reader, first time commenter. I read this sotry back when it was on the old site, and wanted to say something then, but couldn’t. Last year, my Senior year at high school, a guy I barely knew committed suicide. It happened on a Friday night, and I knew about it by Saturday. My best friend was over watching movies, when his aunt (and my aunt too) came over and told him to get home ASAP, and not to ask why. The next day, I called him to see what the deal was; this guy was his brother’s best friend. Oh course, I felt bad for those that were close to him, and a little bit sorry for him (although, I hate suicide more than anything else in the world), when I came to school on Monday, I didn’t want to be sad and mopey. From what little I knew of him, he was always laughing and trying to make people laugh, and I wanted to honor him by continueing to laugh. When I walked in that day, I started cracking jokes, like any other morning. When asked if I knew about the news yet, everyone was surprised to here that I had. No one could figure out how I could still laugh on a day like this. In fact, some people got really angry at me over it. The funeral/viewing/whatever was held in the school gym, because there weren’t any churches big enough to hold everyone who was coming (and, my school’s pretty small, only like 300 people). I was almost literally the only person at my school to not go. I caught even more flak over that, but I pointed out to my critics that I didn’t know him, and although I did feel sadness over his death, I didn’t want to pretend like we were close, or really good friends, when we just plain weren’t.
    Basically, I honored him the way I want to be honored. I’ve spent all of my life making people laugh, and I don’t want them to cry just because I’m not around anymore. In fact, I’m even working on a doomsday video, to play at my funeral, in which I announce that I was only faking my death and I am really alive and well….NOT! Please, the best thing to do to respect the dead is just to live.
    PS: Yes, a lot of people do think I’m creepy and morbid to have a doomsday video, but hey, death’s just the punchline to this joke that we call life.
    PPS: Yes, my name is Azrael also, but it is purely a coincidence. I am also black. Not really, I’m about as white as they come, but I like th think of myself as black on the inside.
    PPPS: In case anyone was wondering, my tombstone will read: “He wasn’t a hacker, he just owned your face.” Make sense to you? Me neither.
    — Azrael Macool

  29. Anonymous said, on October 19, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    I remember I think a Robert Frost poem about a young man who died working in a lumber mill, and how after he was buried, they went back to work. The thing is, when people die, no matter how great or kind or even evil they are, the world moves on. There is always new life taking the place of the old.

  30. Anonymous said, on October 19, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    I remember I think a Robert Frost poem about a young man who died working in a lumber mill, and how after he was buried, they went back to work. The thing is, when people die, no matter how great or kind or even evil they are, the world moves on. There is always new life taking the place of the old.

  31. Nick said, on October 22, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    I had to deal with a lot of death throughout HS. Every year someone in the class of 2005, or associated with that class, died a horrible death. Freshman year a freshman in my A+ certification class died after his 4 wheeler flipped over ontop of him and crushed him to death. Sophomore year, during spring break, a chemistry teacher and his 8 year old daughter were washed over a waterfall thanks to a flash flood in Hawaii. Junior year(I believe it was the summer before or summer after, I honestly can’t remember…sad when there were so many deaths you can’t remember specifics) 2 girls were killed in an automobile accident, one was a student at my HS. Senior year one guy got killed when someone tried to steal his truck from him. The year after that (2006 graduation year) a friend of mine was killed in a horrible head on collision when his front driver tire blew and threw him across the median on a very dangerous highway…all 4 people involved in the wreck died (3 of them were students, the other person was the lady who hit them). My friend was suppost to be in the class of 05 but was held back a few years ago due to grades. In a school of near 2000 kids, death becomes expected every year…sad to say.

  32. Katie said, on November 21, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    This is really sad. A friend of mine was stabbed to death by the railroad tracks a few months ago. I’ll never forget the assembly my high school had about it…. Young people dying is the worst thing ever 😦

  33. evil_tennyo said, on December 15, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    amazing. this is something i think everyone should do, honor the life that person had, rather than mourn and regretting thier lives.

  34. Ben said, on February 25, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    I usually don’t comment, but I felt compelled to.
    When I was a high school freshmen, a boy that I had known since elementary school accidentally shot himself in the head while cleaning his dad’s gun. He died later that day (it happened over the weekend). Everybody was really sad, but I hadn’t talked to the guy in ages so I wasn’t really broken up.
    In any case, it was the same sort of atmosphere. I just understand what you mean is all.

  35. Agon said, on July 14, 2007 at 7:14 am

    I sometimes wonder, is it wrong that I feel no grief whatsoever over such occurrences?
    Am I not human? Or is it the opposite? Not feeling anything is what makes one what one is? No, feeling, but not the feeling of grief, but the feeling of happiness. Am I just evil? Does a grim fate awaits me? Or an enlightened life?
    Only time will tell.

  36. A said, on August 11, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Hi, I am Asian [Chinese} living in a Western country and I appreciate the level of empathy you had, as an average American, towards the event, typified by your Western background (geared towards the individual as opposed to the family, as in most Asian countries). The Japanese in particular, have a very strong sense of community spirit – doing what is right by their groups and for the whole community (the welfare of the country).
    In dealing with the boys death, they don’t react in the Western way, but rather as they would have a large and very close family, whereby their continued way of life is a tribute to the boy’s achievement in life in contributing to the lives of those around him.
    Just thought you might appreciate the mindset of an Asian who understood, somewhat, their reactions. Thanks for you story.

  37. webo1freak said, on August 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    A, I am Asian and Chinese, like you, but with more westernised outlook on life, and thus, the way that Azrael did this entry enlightened me.
    When I am gone, I would not want people to grieve over my passing too.
    Thanks Azrael.

  38. Jonadab the Unsightly One said, on November 5, 2007 at 10:36 am

    The complete dispair so many Americans go into whenever there’s a death has always (well, since I became aware of it) struck me as a little odd. I grew up in the midwestern US, but I was raised in a subculture, sheltered (not from things like death, but from American popular culture) until we moved and I ended up in the public school system in seventh grade, by which time most of my ideas about death had been pretty well established. So although I am a multi-generation American on both sides of the family, I don’t really understand the American cultural approach to death. The Japanese approach you describe seems more natural to me.
    Death is natural, normal, something that happens (at some point) to everyone. I’m not saying there isn’t anything sad about it; sure, if you’ve been close to someone, you’ve grown accustomed to having them around, and so separation is always a little sad. But this business about going all morose and sliding into depression and doing nothing but moping for days on end, I just don’t get it. What does that accomplish? Especially when it wasn’t even really somebody you were all that close to — a classmate, nothing more. Yeesh. Are you going to carry on like that EVERY time somebody dies? People die all the time, but do you really want to live your whole life in mourning? To me, this aspect of American culture is uglier than the death itself.

  39. Anonymous said, on February 29, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I don’t really have anything to add to the while “American VS Japanese” view of death and the customs associated with it, but I do have a similar experience with teenaged death. It was just an FFXI player who was killed by a drunk driver. I don’t know the girl, hell, I didn’t even play the game, but from the forum post, and everyone’s reaction, she seemed like a very friendly and helpful young lady, and that’s the part that hit me the hardest: Why is it that it’s always the good that dies? She was in the prime of her life, ffs. So even though I wasn’t connected to her in any shape or form, I was still torn up over it for a couple of days.
    I’d imagine that if something like this happened in my school, I would be in mourning for a while too.
    So I guess I do have something to add to the whole discussion: I feel that a person’s memory SHOULD be remembered, but not so easily “thrown away” either, as I see it. I can’t say I understand the whole “continuing to live their life” mentality. Maybe it’s just the part of me that has a hard time letting things go? Although I don’t consider myself more American than Asian, I guess that’s one part of me that’s more akin to Americans than Asians.

  40. Anonymous said, on February 29, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I don’t really have anything to add to the while “American VS Japanese” view of death and the customs associated with it, but I do have a similar experience with teenaged death. It was just an FFXI player who was killed by a drunk driver. I don’t know the girl, hell, I didn’t even play the game, but from the forum post, and everyone’s reaction, she seemed like a very friendly and helpful young lady, and that’s the part that hit me the hardest: Why is it that it’s always the good that dies? She was in the prime of her life, ffs. So even though I wasn’t connected to her in any shape or form, I was still torn up over it for a couple of days.
    I’d imagine that if something like this happened in my school, I would be in mourning for a while too.
    So I guess I do have something to add to the whole discussion: I feel that a person’s memory SHOULD be remembered, but not so easily “thrown away” either, as I see it. I can’t say I understand the whole “continuing to live their life” mentality. Maybe it’s just the part of me that has a hard time letting things go? Although I don’t consider myself more American than Asian, I guess that’s one part of me that’s more akin to Americans than Asians.

  41. Mike said, on March 21, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Hi, I’m asian, and i can understand how death is dealed with. Often times, there is a grieving period, which is followed by relative normalness.
    While this was an unexpected death, most funerals i attend have an insane amount of crying and dark mood, yet, when it comes dinner time, everyone is cheerfully enjoying themselves as nothing happened. It is just a way of dealing with death. It is much the same as how christians view death as a new life in heaven, which is generally good.

  42. Ashanti Kid said, on August 2, 2008 at 10:22 am

    you think THEY were happy quick? , you should go to Ghana , there the funerals turn into parties after the first 10 minutes.
    i mean it, dancing, singing, eating, drinking, laughing. google it or something, you’ll be shocked

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