[FOUNTAIN]Burial rituals and help for those after usKoreans say that no matter how hard your life might be, it’s better alive than dead. In a beautiful fall day, we enjoy the twinkling colored leaves and warm, soft sunlight. No one has told us yet how it is to live in the hereafter, so we should hold tight to the small pleasures we have here. Older people used to say we should not pick on other people’s faults until we put our hands together and lie in a coffin because our own flaws might be bigger. Life is given by heaven, and it is so hard for humans to take care of it.
Each human race and nation has its own version of funerals, from burial to cremation, and passes down a legacy of rituals and history. Koreans, who do not want to damage even a strand of hair inherited from their parents, stubbornly insist on burial. Another reason that Koreans favor burial is the idea that the locations of the ancestors’ graves would affect the fate of the descendants. In a small country with not enough land for living people to dwell, setting aside land to bury the dead has become a national problem. Some insist that those customs should change.
The most general form is that a dead body is buried on the ground, is decomposed by bacteria and then returns to the soil. Cremating and laying the ground bone in a vault is an increasingly popular alternative to burial. But there is another way. Thanks to the increased average lifespan and the advancement of medical technology, there are many ways for the dead to help future mankind. We can donate organs to save other lives or give our bodies to a medical school for research. According to medical specialists, there are many valuable things you can do after you die.
The family of Oh Jae-cheol, the director of the Organ Donors Headquarters of Love, has donated organs and cadavers over three generations and saved dozens of patients. The story of the Oh family is the truest practice of sharing and the most complete form of death. As her last will, Mr. Oh’s mother said her body would decompose anyway so she wished to give everything back to the earth.
Well-being has become a huge trend this year. It is important how well we live, but some are increasingly aware that it is equally important how well we die. The family of Mr. Oh has proved that “well-dying” could save lives. There is so much we can to after death, and we can put a beautiful period on our lives.
by Chung Jae-suk
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.