We Interred Our Mother’s Bones at the Ossuary.

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On Saturday, I went to Tokyo to inter my mother’s bones at an ossuary. My brother and I decided to place her bones at the grave of my father’s family.

In Japan, we have families, and usually if a couple gets married one of them joins the other family, and my mother joined the father’s family. Therefore, technically, it is the usual conduct. However, there was a talk about whether to be buried at her family’s grave or his family’s grave during her lifetime. She kind of expressed wishes to be buried at her family’s grave but she never discussed it with her brother who was in charge of the grave. It wasn’t a strong wish and she couldn’t make up her mind about it. Well, she didn’t believe in life after death or the spirit world, therefore she didn’t really care about what happens after death.

It was more convenient for us if she is at the same grave as the father, plus we felt it was more appropriate if she was reunited with the father in the spirit world.

The ceremony turned out to be unique again.  This time, the relatives from the father’s side attended, too, and they are all Christian. This is because my father became a Christian and he evangelized his brothers and sisters.

The relatives from the mother’s side are Buddhists, or at least conduct funerals in Buddhist style.

My brother is a Christian, too, although he is in a different sect from the father.

The mother is an atheist.

And, you know what I am. Well, maybe not. I haven’t been vocal about it so much, but you could guess from the way I see things. It is rather complicated. The best thing is to read the final chapter in Ikigai Bio-Hacking, I wrote about my belief in detail there.

Just like the funeral was freestyle, the interment ceremony was free, too. People could pray in any way they wished.

My brother served as the pastor of the ceremony because that is what he does. He works at the church and he is at a pretty high rank there.

You are hearing a lot of surprising facts about my family-haha.

We also conducted the ceremony 49 days after her death, which is a Buddhist tradition. I don’t know whether we did it to please the mother’s side relatives or just the timing was convenient, it was my brother’s call,  you know.

In Buddhism, after your death, you spend 49 days reflecting upon your life and decide the next course. For the left behind, it is the mourning period, and after 49 days we release our grief and let the deceased go to the spirit world.

It was good that I chanted Heart Sutra every morning during this period. I began doing it a little before her death due to my interest in Shugendo, but it turned out to be good timing.

My brother conducted the ritual because that seemed to be the most neutral way, not doing it in the father’s side family’s way or the mother’s side family’s way, and he made it as universal as possible. The words that anyone could relate to.

I was pleased myself. I am not a Christian, yet I could relate to everything he said.

I think the mother was pleased, too. Although she was an atheist and didn’t want to have any kind of ceremony, it must have been nice to have people around and be sent off with a proper ritual however it was.

My brother even included the father’s last word to the mother when he passed away 55 years ago. Since she is reunited with her husband after such a long time, it must be meaningful to hear his last words, or they may be hearing it together.

It was the letter to the corinthians chapter 13.

Yes, he told the mother to read 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The message was universal and it could be applied to Buddhism, too.
After the brother’s speech and prayer, each person gave a prayer in their own way.
Anyway, the 49-day mourning period has ended and I feel happy that we had managed to send her off properly.


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