'We can talk to each other after we die'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

C.Y. Lai has always wanted her ashes to be laid to rest in a beautiful garden, so the fact the government has plans to set up two gardens of remembrance has been cause for some excitement.

Ms Lai, 69, a former factory owner and Kwun Tong resident, said she did not mind her remains being mixed with others, which is a taboo to many Chinese.

'By that time, I'll already be dead - I won't need to worry about it,' Ms Lai said, adding that her husband, 71, a retired engineer, also liked the idea of his ashes spread on the garden.

She said that she liked the concept as it is simple, environmental and economical. 'I don't want to bother my daughters after I die,' she said, adding that she didn't want to put them to the trouble of finding a burial plot or an urn place, both of which are in short supply.

The Hygiene Department has already launched a system for sea burials in four designated marine areas, to help ease demands for urn storage. But Ms Lai disliked the idea, not only because she did not want anyone to have to book a boat, but also because of her afterlife.

'I am afraid that my spirit and my husband's will be separated, as the sea may float us apart,' she said. She wants both her ashes and those of her husband to be in the same garden next to each other, so that 'we can see and talk to each other after we die'.

She said she would visit the new gardens of remembrance when they opened later this year to learn more about them. At least 50 elderly people who have registered with a funeral arrangement service by St James' Settlement have asked to have their ashes spread in gardens of remembrance, according to senior manager Josephine Lee Yuk-chi.

Ms Lee believed many childless elderly people would opt for it. 'They wouldn't care if they have a niche.'