Eco-friendly to the end

Eco-friendly to the end

She loved nature and the environment. So the last thing she wanted was for any tree to die in her final journey.

When Miss Sylvia Low (above, picture), 49, died last month, her loved ones found just the right thing: An "eco-ffin".

Miss Low's coffin was made of unbleached carton paper for the top and sides, with a base of plywood and particle board to support the weight.

A friend, Miss Serena Lim, 49, recounted how Miss Low was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2012, shortly before she had her first stroke.

They had met each other 25 years ago at KhattarWong, the first law firm they worked for.

Miss Low, a former lawyer, left the practice in 2000 to join Miss Lim as directors of Bizibody Technology, which provides legal, management and marketing expertise for the global business community.

Miss Lim told The New Paper: "After Sylvia suffered her first stroke, she cherished life even more and had even tried to control her diet. But we would also discuss death and things like coffins.

"She did not feel that it was morbid to talk about it. She felt instead that it would make it easier for the people who are living if we made plans ahead."

On March 11, Miss Low had her second stroke and was in a coma for 10 days.

Miss Lim said: "She went for a CT scan and we were told that her chances of a recovery were slim. Three days after her stroke, I was going through her things and I found out she had signed an Advance Medical Directive (AMD, also known as a living will)."

As they prepared for the worst, Miss Lim searched online to find out more about paper coffins and came across the website of a firm that supplies eco-friendly coffins.

LOOKED LIKE GIFT BOX

Said Miss Lim: "We were told that it would be a closed coffin, but for us, it was fine. Sylvia had also discussed embalming.

"She had said that she did not want her friends and loved ones to remember her last look in an embalmed form."

When the coffin arrived, it looked like "a plain, sad shoe box", said Miss Lim.

But they prepared stationery such as sticky papers, markers and crayons for those bidding Miss Low a final farewell.

She said: "At first, we could see that some were hesitant, but we encouraged everyone. We told them that they could write on the sticky notes, pieces of paper, or even directly on the coffin.

"One by one, people started to do so, and we even had some very elaborate drawings."

To reflect Miss Low's love of nature, some brought flowers to place on her coffin.

Miss Lim said: "We also placed figurines of cats on Sylvia's coffin because she loved them."

She said that about 100 people contributed to the masterpiece.

"There was so much love," she said, "in the end, it looked like a gift box."

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