Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from last year, IDiedTodayxNTU is back for a second run. This year 38 participants experienced their living funeral at the foyer of the School of Social Sciences on 19th September. Details of our first run can be found here.
We would like to acknowledge and thank Zao Bao Sg for their reporting and coverage.
English Translation by Ms. Choo Ping Ying and Ms. Hilary Ma:
38 NTU students and professor experienced “Death”
To encourage dialogue about death, 38 NTU students, inclusive of third year and fourth year psychology students and a Master student, encountered an experiential activity of a living funeral together with their professor.
Prior to the event, the students prepared their self-eulogies. These eulogies were read to them by facilitators at their living funeral. As a symbol of their passing, the students were then fully covered with a white cloth, where they solemnly reflected on their experience.
A husband feeling heartbroken as his wife read his eulogy
Shaik, a 33-year-old Master’s student in gerontology invited his wife to read his eulogy as he participated in the experiential activity. As he listened to his wife read his eulogy in tears, he felt heartbroken and sorrowful as there was nothing he could do to comfort her in that moment. “I have known my wife for nine years and we are married for two years. She broke into tears as she read my eulogy, drenching my paper coffin with her tears”, he added.
“I’m usually comfortable with death-related conversations, but this activity has strengthened my relationship with my wife. Through this activity, my wife and I have learned that even though we are married, we need to be comfortable with living alone as well. We cannot foresee our death, so we need to cherish our family and the people around us,” expressed Shaik.
Dr. Andy Ho, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, developed and organized this experiential activity for two consecutive years.
He highlighted the necessity to embrace the inevitability of death and understand death as a natural process of life. To address death taboos, he aspires to encourage dialogue and awareness through public education.
“People often perceive discussions about death as taboo and inauspicious. However, embracing death provides us with the opportunity to engage in self-reflection,” emphasized Dr. Andy Ho.
Experiencing peace in the face of death
Wong Su Ting, a 22-year-old psychology student in her fourth year, revealed that her father had passed away two years from an illness at the age of 67. Since then, she was fearful approaching the topic of death, but was able to find peace encountering her own mortality at the living funeral.
“I took a leave of absence to care for my father to spend quality time with him prior to his passing. Back then, I found death horrifying. I was terrified and I felt alone. However, as I face death again at the living funeral, I experienced peace instead and I am not longer afraid of death,” Su Ting recounted.
Su Ting continued, “What can I do to ensure that I find peace in the afterlife? Taking part in this living funeral reminds me that I have goals which I want to achieve and I will work towards those goals henceforth.”
The need to live life with no regrets
Tan Jun Hao, a 25 year-old psychology student in his fourth year, aspires to be a clinical psychologist working with terminally-ill seniors. He realized that he rarely spent time with his family due to school commitment, and had yet to fulfil his aspirations. He shared, “I have yet to realize many dreams and I will have regrets if I were to leave the world now.”
According to Jun Hao, the idea of his own mortality has never crossed his mind. During the immersive process of IDiedTodayxNTU when he was covered with a cloth and heard his eulogy, he began to deeply reflect on significant people and life events.
“The experience was immersive. I wish I can die with dignity and great joy. I included a quote in my artwork, ‘to lead a fulfilled life’. It serves as a reminder to myself that I should live with no regrets,” concluded Jun Hao.