A week of mourning: 6 life lessons from watching a love on go (beer included)

I haven’t really had time to write new posts for the last few weeks. Well, actually I did, but I didn’t really have the motivation to.

My grandpa was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, to which my family and I were visiting everyday. Then last week, he passed on, so we had to attend to the wake every day. For the last night, I even only had a couple of hours of sleep as I took watch at night.

I did however, find time to email to my list every day. I decided to post the emails here. Call it a series of whatever, I figured they had some good lessons inside.

And thank you again, for those who replied and gave me your support. I accept all virtual hugs, good vibes, positive energy, prayers and blessings willingly.

Thank you.

Check it.

Hospitalization period

Email #1: What my grandpa thinks about when he’s in the hospital

Yo {!firstname_fix},

Indeed, life is too short for a world this big. Life is too short to take things for granted.

And we’re all guilty of that.

My grandpa isn’t doing too well now. It seems like, last week when he seemed to do better, it was just a rough guess by some physician.

Physically, my grandpa’s organs are all shutting down one by one…

… Honestly, it’s just a matter of time.

So it kind of got me thinking about what he’s thinking about, everyday in the hospital.

One can only imagine. Me and my cousins were talking about it. Perhaps he’s thinking:

– When he’s going to die.

As he knows he’s old and his body cannot hold out much anymore.

– How he spent his entire life, stage by stage.

From his wee childhood memories to his teenage days to him starting a business. Oh get this: My grandpa was around during World War II to experience the time the Japanese invaded us.

– Where that damn nurse is.

Because he complained before that the nurse took a long time to come over. Haha. I thought that was funny.

– How he misses his home.

He’s been sitting and lying on the same bed for 2 weeks already.

So this is something I believe, that when you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to give a shit about money, work, career or pleasing others anymore.

You’re just thinking when you’re going to die and whether you did all that you want in your life; whether your memories are enough.

And yo man. don’t take life for granted. Don’t take the little things you’re used to for granted.

I can’t imagine being away from home for so long. It must suck.

Try to be happy ok {!firstname_fix}?

Life isn’t worth being pissed off and frustrated all the time.

Life is however, worth being grateful and appreciative of what you have. Then you’ll realize how lucky and great your life actually is…

I’ll try to reply my emails this week. In the mean time, check out;

100 Days of No-bullshit Happiness – For a life worth living and creating memories.

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I know they can help you.


Email #2: You don’t know what real strength is: My grandfather will probably die this week…

Yo {!firstname_fix},

Well kind of sad news. I just got back from the hospital.

My grandfather wasn’t even awake tonight. He was sedated to the point of not being conscious at all. I don’t think he even ate today.

My uncle told me that it’s my cousin’s birthday this Wednesday. He happens to be the first grandson of the generation so he has always been the favorite of my grandfather. He pretty much took care of my cousin when he was just a little baby.

And… my uncle thinks that my grandfather is holding just to experience that day, then he will let go.

We’ll never know I guess, but I myself have a feel that he’ll let go this week too. It’s been a grueling couple of weeks since he was admitted.

Anyway so I don’t mean to go on another “please live your life to the fullest” speech. I’ve said that ample times already. So please just take a look at this picture I took just two hours ago:

So ah, that’s my mom attending to my grandfather. You know what she’s doing?

She’s letting him listen to a Chinese version of a Christian gospel song which she is streaming on YouTube.

All the while, she would speak into his ear in Chinese about how God was with him and that he didn’t have to be afraid.

Everytime my grandfather fidgeted in his sleep, which was surprisingly energetic, my mom would hold his hand and start speaking to him to calm him down.

That really got to me.

There she was, my mom, being brave and all, calmly and slowly reciting soothing words of God to my grandfather. My mom, the one who raised me and my brother, had to see her own husband get taken away, take care of me and my brother and now, to see her own dad be taken away, soon.

And there I was, just stunned in silence. Alden Tan, the writer trying to hold back tears, and wondering why I am an asshole, as I tend to be rude and cranky to my mom. I’m not even a religious person, but I couldn’t help but think, “Get the fuck out of my head logical thoughts!”

I couldn’t help but think that because, sometimes you know, in life, the thoughts and rationalization you have to form your own perspective and beliefs in life always crumble down when the things that do matter are starring right at you in the face.

And that includes death.

I hope that kind of made sense to you {!firstname_fix}. I’ll end this email here. Please be happy.

And please don’t be an asshole to your parents.

If you’d check out my latest offering and support me, I’ll be grateful. It’s just a book on dealing with shyness and social anxiety.


Passing on

Email 3: So it has happened: My grandpa has left us for a better place

Hey {!firstname_fix},

My granddad has left us, at 430AM today.

We’ll be heading out soon to receive the body.

I’ll be pretty tied up for the next 5 days or so for the funeral.

I’m not a religious person… but I like to believe that when we die, we go to some place better.

It’s just something I like to believe. That’s all.

Sorry. I’ve no proof whatsoever.

Oh well.

So many questions in life. Yet, so many questions in death.

I do however, also like to think that my grandpa is watching now and can see me for who I really am.


Ah Gong, if you’re seeing this, I hope you’re in a better place and that you’re no longer burdened by an earthly shell.

I’ll drink a beer to you soon, because beers are good. It makes me fly.

Just like how I think you’re flying now.

Gotta go {!firstname_fix}. I’ll try to squeeze in some work too, so hang tight and await my reply.

If you want to support, click here.


Email #4: Lesson reminders: The other and lighter side of death


First off, I just wanted to give a big shout out and thank you to those who reached out to me.

Thank you. I accept all your condolences, blessings, smileys, virtual hugs, positive vibes, prayers, thoughts and energy.

It means a lot.

Anyway so Day 1 of the wake is over. Only 4 more to go.

And I’ve eaten a shitload…

Yeah there’s nothing much to do at the wake. So I just kept snacking.

I don’t think you were expecting me to say that eh?

You know, the passing of my granddad was such a great reminder of my life, like what has happened and why I am the way I am.

It reminded me so much of my own dad’s death.

For the last couple of weeks, all of us, my mom, my brother, my cousins, my uncles and aunties all knew it was coming. We were preparing for this moment ever since my granddad was admitted in the hospital.

But yesterday, when we received the body at the wake, we all brawled our eyes out.

I don’t think anyone can control themselves when they see the lifeless body of of a loved one.

At that moment, I was thinking, “This is WHY. This is what matters. This is real.”

So many people are constantly worrying about what’s happening in front of their lives now, mostly in the form of work, money, careers and whoever pissed you off.

They’re legit, but honestly, they’re nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Even I’ve to constantly remind myself on what’s important in life.

Your perspective changes when death happens. Your perspective can’t be the same when you see your loved ones crying their eyes out.

What’s cool so far is that I’m hanging out a lot with that side of the family. I hardly ever see them. Probably at most once a year for weddings and stuff.

So it’s nice to get to know them all over again.

Even my uncle, who’s quiet as shit all the time according to my mom, is talking A LOT now. He even asked me to invite him along when I head to Thailand. Then his brother, my other uncle told me to make sure if he goes, that he pays for everything because apparently he’s super rich or something lol.

One last thing.

Here’s a very cool quote:

It’s from the TV series Scrubs.

Pretty brilliant if you ask me.

And so, everyone has a different way of coping with life, all the ups and downs.

I find it fucking sad that so many people are always ready to shit on each other. I remember when Steve Erwin, the late crocodile hunter died, his little daughter then gave an inspiring and moving speech. She was smiling, laughing and all. Then an internet comment went along the lines of, “She’s such a bad daughter. She didn’t even cry.”


So, be tolerant and open of everyone {!firstname_fix}. Everyone has a different coping mechanism.

Be they laughing, crying, joking, going berserk or whatever, you never know what they’re truly thinking.

That is why later, I’ll probably have a beer, or two, or three. No, I’m not an alcoholic. I just want to drink and also to his memory.

Love you {!firstname_fix}.

Again, if you want to support me, click here. I’d appreciate it.


Email #5: You absolutely WILL know how to move on

Yo {!firstname_fix},

A couple of years ago, my friend’s brother died. A tree fell on him. Yeah seriously. He was just chilling and minding his own business when a tree fell on his head.

He was gone just like that.

I attended the wake to accompany my friend.

He asked me, “How did you move on? How did you get over your dad’s death?”

My answer to him, and everyone who has asked me on the subject of moving on:

“You’ll know what to do. You just do.”


“Because it’s just life. You need to know what to do. Even if you don’t know what to do, life keeps going on anyway and you’ll be forced to keep going on.

And as long as you’re a rational person who knows how to make sensible decisions, you’ll be alright.

It sounds hard. But when the moment comes, you’ll know what to do.”

That {!firstname_fix}, has always been my answer.

Usually, I’ll add on about how if you’re self-destructive and see a need to escape with drugs, alcohol or get easily depressed and start causing trouble, then yeah, you probably need some help then, professional help.

Other than that… you’ll know what to do.

You’re good.

That was how I dealt with the first couple of weeks after my dad died. I was very fearful of having to see my mom sleep alone in her room and dealing with the absence of my dad in the house.

But when those moments came, I just knew what to do. I watched my mom sleep alone. It was a little painful, but it was alright overall. In fact, I remember being too tired myself so I just went to sleep.

I did however, completely fucked up my first semester in college. My dad died only a couple of months before college started, so I had no motivation to study. I screwed up my exams and was subsequently put on study probation.

Sounds crazy? Not really. I just got my shit together and studied a little harder.

No big deal.

So {!firstname_fix}, whenever you feel a little tired, sad, fearful and stuff, don’t worry.

It’ll be alright.

You’ll know what to do. It’s fine. Just relax a little and don’t do stupid shit.

Here’s our hull last night-

The bottles are all beers baby. Me and my cousin drank during our watch at the wake last night. We were up till like 6 AM.

It was good. I even bought one for my grandma. That was how we knew what to do 😉

As usual, if you want to support, click here. It’ll mean a lot. I’ll help you move on.

Peace, out

Email #6: And so it has ended. Bye Grandpa. Questions, questions, questions.

Hey {!firstname_fix},

So we cremated my grandpa yesterday morning. I’ve been mad tired from the entire day’s event, which was preceded with only a couple of hours worth of sleep since I took watch the previous night.

You know, there’re just so many questions.

Nobody truly knows what comes after death. Are the comforting words we say nothing but rehashed things we make up only? How do we know he has gone to a better place?

My cousin’s husband said he had a dream of my grandpa, who looked young and happy in it. Was that a sign?

I had a great time bonding with this side of the family during the entire wake. Are we, who love each other only going to meet when tragic shit happens?

During prayers and rituals, I had the occasional thought of work and how annoying some of my friends are. Am I crazy?

I was also heavily contemplating further isolating myself from some friends. Do I really want to be so introverted all the time?

I had a lot beer with my cousin and I had fun. Was I selfish? Did I truly care about my grandpa?

My mom said she was at peace today during the cremation because she said my grandpa accepted Jesus Christ. As I was telling my cousin, don’t you think, on your deathbed and after going through 89 years of your life and for once, not knowing what comes next, you’d be opened to a lot of things?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

I’m not trying to go deep here, but yeah, life is all questions.

So here’s what I think:

As long as you feel happy, your conscience is clear, you feel alright about it (not perfect, but decent enough to be alright), then go with it.

Stop questioning. The questions will never stop.

Read too much into it and you’ll never have your answers.

Sometimes, you need to take it as it is and just go with it. It’s like accepting a compliment. If somebody says you look good today, you say, “Thanks.” Not, “OH nahhhh my hair is too poofy and doesn’t look celebrity like I like it.” and blah blah.

Just be happy. There’s no wrong way to do that.

I’d like to thank you, my lovely readers for being with me this entire week.

The last three weeks certainly was different. Two weeks of hospital visits everyday and a week of the wake. And it’s December. What a way to end 2014 huh?

But hey, no more questions.

Just Thanks Yous, from me. Love you {!firstname_fix}.

Again, if you’d like to support, click here to see what I can offer. Help me to help you.


That is all.

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  1. Dan Western - December 11, 2014 12:48 pm

    Sorry for your loss Alden. I lost my uncle last month to cancer. was definitely a tough month.

    Love your writing style as always. Keep it up.

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