Simple last rites for woman who fell after son slashed

Simple last rites for woman who fell after son slashed

On Mother's Day, her body rested at the mortuary.

Those who grieved for Madam Melanie Lim May Shien did so quietly and privately.

There was to be no wake, no procession.

And the hearse carrying the 45-year-old's coffin to the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium did not display her picture.

Only her husband and six other relatives, all in masks, were present.

Her 12-year-old son, meanwhile, was covered in swatches and bandages at the National University Hospital (NUH).

The New Paper understands that he is now in a stable condition in the intensive care unit, and is still being kept in the dark about his mother's death.

Madam Lim's death marked the end of a tumultuous relationship which ended with her allegedly slashing the 12-year-old before falling to her death.

Her body was discovered among the bushes outside Springdale Condominium at Bukit Timah on Sunday morning.

Two hours before she was found, her son was admitted into the NUH for multiple slash wounds.

STRAINED RELATIONSHIP

Residents TNP spoke to did not seem to know Madam Lim and her family.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that Madam Lim and her husband of more than two decades have had a strained relationship for the past five years and rarely spoke to each other.

Undertakers TNP spoke to said that "straight cases" - cremations with no wakes or processions - like in Madam Lim's instance is very much a personal preference.

Said Mr Roland Tay, who founded Direct Funeral Services: "Different people have different thinking. In some cases, the deceased may have requested for his loved ones to go ahead with a simple cremation and do away with wakes.

"Sometimes, it could also be a case of family members feeling too stressed to handle a loved one's death."

He said that straight cases are not common these days.

Mr Nicky Teo, 25, the managing director of Funeral Solutions, agreed. He said that in cases like Madam Lim's, the family could have deliberately opted for a direct cremation to avoid the media glare.

Mr Teo, who has been in the business for a decade, said other possible reasons include the age of the deceased, as well as the cost. He said the cost of a full funeral package, from the wake to the cremation, ranges from $5,000 to $10,000.

"Some may not want to let their family go through the hassle of holding a wake and spend too much money," he explained.

Both undertakers said a wake is usually held to commemorate a loved one's death, and to allow the deceased's family and friends to see him or her for the last time.

Said Mr Teo: "It is part and parcel of our Chinese culture to hold a wake as a form of final farewell, to show gratitude to the deceased and to commemorate the death."

As for the absence of a picture on the hearse or during the cremation, the undertakers said it is not a cultural taboo.

The photo is simply a way for families to identify their loved ones.

Said Mr Tay: "It's okay, as long as the family members are there and know that the deceased is their loved one."

Mr Teo added: "Sometimes, the family may choose not to develop any photos as they don't want to keep anything that will remind them of their grief."

fjieying@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 13 in The New Paper.

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