Tag Archives: connection

Funeral Headbands


H is a pre-med Biology major at USC who grew up in Vancouver, Washington. His parents immigrated to the US from Vietnam.


H: “For funerals, you have to visit every day for the first week after the funeral and then once a week for seven weeks. And then, on the hundredth day since the funeral, everybody comes back to the temple. It’s like, the biggest day for them (the dead). You pray for them, wish them well at the temple. The hundredth day is when you have everybody together and you have a big feast. You have these white headbands that you wear and on the hundredth day, they chop off the headband.”


Since H was raised in a Viet-American household, he and his family’s celebration of weddings is similar to an Irish wake funeral, but also adds cultural specificity to Viet customs. For example, it is common in Irish funerals to throw a party on the deceased’s behalf, not only as a celebration of the deceased when they were alive but as a re-engineering of the domineering sorrow of a funeral. H’s feast on the hundredth day pays homage to the one who died without inviting negative emotions into the celebration of the individual.

Funerals are a liminal space, as Von Gennup puts it, lingering between the stages of life and death in a person’s existence on Earth. Rather than using funerals as a chance to mourn, H and Irish funeral traditions connect with members of their community and pray for safety into the next part of existing for the dead. This acceptance of death, the massive respect and commitment to the dead after the funeral, seems cultural, as does the white headbands and time. There is an acceptance of death as time marches on, not a denying of it. Rather, H’s family seems to come to terms that nothing can get in the way of death but glimmers for an appreciation of life and the one the once dead led.

A Distinct Spiritual Connection

Main Transcript:

Collector: Good morning LK. How are you? I know that you have had some spiritual experiences with your mom. I would really appreciate it you shared those experiences with me.

Informant: I’m well and yes, this is the story about my mom…

My mom fit all the classic roles of a mom and was a great woman, but she also had an interesting spiritual side.  I didn’t realize the depth of her connection to ghosts and the after-life until my after my mom passed away.  She died suddenly and unexpected for someone of good health. The day after she passed, I had the opportunity to be at her house with my dad, in her surroundings and in her personal space.  I noticed that some things were out of order and different than they had been in the past. My mother is a very intentional and orderly person, so seeing classic items out of order had caught me off guard. I was looking at my mom’s phone and I saw that the very last series of pictures she took where are all items and memories that were important to her. The very very last photo on her entire camera roll was a picture that she had taken of a wooden Angel that sits right next to her favorite chair. As I continued to look around, I found the Angel and it had been moved from the side table where it was in the photo to the mantle next to a photo of all of my mom’s grandchildren. It was like my mom was connected to the spirits and knew that she was leaving this planet of earth and was having this out of body experience on the day before she passed away.  She had used her camera phone to capture some of these memories from of her life on earth.

My mom was a very spiritual person, she felt like she had a connection with people and places from a time in the past. She would share that she knew of a restaurant in a town we had never been to or that she knew specifics of someone’s sister when she had never met them before. Not all the examples of my mother’s connection with the past are positive. There is a theater in Bellingham that my mother refused to attend or even drive near-by.  She said it was haunted with evil ghosts.  She believed someone would get hurt there, as she said that things dropped out of the ceiling on actors and the carpet would unravel around attendees’ feet to trip them up. Another thing that my mom believed was that her father, who passed away 20 years before her, visited her frequently. My mom said she never saw her father, but knew his spirt was in her house, she could feel his presence. My mom who was a very sound mind would wake up in the morning and her personal trinkets on bookshelves and family pictures from when she was a child or anything connected to her family were knocked over or moved around in different orders.  She believed this was her father reminding her about her childhood and his continued involvement in her life, even from heaven. So the day after my mom died and I was at her house I started to notice the same thing that she described by her own dad as a spirit in her house where it happened. I noticed in her living room all of her grandchildren photos on the shelf were all moved into a different order and that was on a peculiar because my mom kept them all very neat and tidy in the same sequence.  I now strongly believe that the day before she passed she was speaking with her father’s spirit or others in the afterlife and knew that she would be leaving this world and was organizing her world before she died. 

Collector: Have you ever experienced a spiritual connection of your own?

Informant: Yes, it includes an experience with my mom.  I had an interesting experience where I was drawn to her the day before said she died. My parents live 90 minute away soon it’s hard for me to come over, say hello and grab a cup of coffee. The day before she died I happen to be in the area working and so I called my parents so simply say “Hello”. Oddly, my client canceled lunch and that allowed me drive over to visit my parents at their house. I was excited to see them and spend time with them. However, I remember thinking this was odd, as the real purpose of my work travels were to meet with this client. I felt like there was this pull for me, as if the afterworld was even speaking through me or my mom was pulling me to come over and see them.  When I was at the house, I didn’t notice that things were out of order and I didn’t notice she was taking photos on her camera roll. I did notice that she was very affectionate and gave me more attention than a normal visit. In fact, she gave me this incredible hug when I left and told me to have an amazing ski weekend with my family doing what I loved the most. I got back in my car and I had this odd feeling, but I could not understand it. The next day, I received a phone call that my mom passed away in her sleep. I immediately reflected on the feelings I had the day before where I was drawn to my mother at her house and now understood that she knew that she would die and she was sharing with me this last connection in the physical world. I now believe that on earth there are people who have spirt-like characteristics and connection to the after world.  It was not until after she passed away when I looked at her phone photos and rearranged items did I understand that she was preparing to go to another world of spirits that will watch and guide over us, just like she did when she was here on earth.   

Collector: Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences.

Context and Relation:

LK grew up in Sedro-Wooley Washington which is roughly ninety minutes north of Seattle. She now lives in Bellevue, Washington and is the mother of two children. LK’s mother died two years ago and she is still learning about the deep spiritual side of her mother. LK will always remember her mother and the love that she gave. LK says that she will be listening in the future for messages from her mother.

Personal Reflection:

I completely agree with LK. Her belief in her mother having some connection to the spiritual realm is totally valid. LK is my mother and LK’s mother is my grandmother so it was obvious knowing my grandmother that she had a spiritual connection. She always seemed to know exactly what to do in all circumstances. When I hear LK’s story, the situations provide a real connection to the spiritual world and the story of her family. Yes, you could say that all these events were coincidence, but it just seems like there is more than just science at play here. LK did say that her mother was extremely spiritual. It would not be that far off to argue that believing in a religion requires similar type of belief and headspace that ghost belief does. In conclusion, LK gave a great ghost story that will continue to live and develop throughout the rest of her life.

Don’t split lanes with friends – Superstition


“I can’t split poles, if I’m walking with a group of people I have to choose a side to join them on. I don’t let the pole come between us, uh, our souls are a part of a like a continuous fabric that exists on all the spiritual planes. By separating ourselves on this physical dimension, we are doing irreparable damage to out bonds in the afterlife and the life that comes beyond.”

Background information: The informant is a USC student. The informant decided to share this story because it is a piece of wisdom that he would like to pass on.

Context: This is a superstition that the informant first heard during his freshman year at USC. His roommate shared this superstition with him, and he believed it to be true immediately.

Personal Analysis: When I was home last summer, I was walking with my best-friend at a mall, when suddenly a person walking the opposite direction decided to walk between my friend and I. After the person split my friend and I up, my friend told me not to let it happen again. Confused, I asked him why, and his response was “cause man, just don’t, it’s bad if you let it happen. If you are ever in a situation like that again you have to pick a side with your friend and both go in the same direction. You can’t let someone or something split your bond” My best-friend didn’t go on to explain the superstition like the informant did, but I believe both follow the same fundamental concept. Now I follow this superstition whenever I’m walking with a friend or a group of people.