Journeying with Families of the Dying and the Dead: David Tan sees it as his calling to serve those in need of comfort and support

I see it as my calling to serve the sick and dying, to bring comfort and peace to family members of the deceased. It is sad, and can be emotionally zapping, but necessary.

“I remind myself to do whatever I can to help and comfort the family of the deceased.”

It is rather ironic that I became a Funeral Minister. I grew up in a Buddhist/Taoist family influenced by my paternal grandmother. 

In my growing up years, I was hounded by the many statues of Taoist deities which I find scary as they are big and have fierce, angry looks on their faces. I was also terrified of the Chinese ghosts that I heard stories of as a child

Yet now, as a Funeral Minister, I go to the crematorium to conduct the Last Rite before the cremation. My role is to give comfort to the family and relatives of the deceased.

Comforting Families of the Deceased

When I first took on the role, the late Fr. Noel Chin, then assistant priest at Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, advised me to say the last prayer slowly and compassionately, not rushed through. It is important to give the family space and time to be comforted by the prayer for the soul of the dead to rest in peace.

There is an experience I will never forget: the funeral of a young lady, the only child of a single mother, who had just completed her tertiary education and started work about 3 months ago. She had fallen accidentally, broken her neck and passed on. 

“I pray for God to lead me where I can be of use to Him and His people.”

The mother, at the funeral, came to me crying desperately: “give me back my Angie!” It was a very heart-breaking moment and I have been reminding myself since then, to do whatever I can to help and comfort the family of the deceased.

I also hold dearly an advice given by a Carmelite Sister – when the family is crying as the coffin is being committed into the burning chamber – never try to recite the prayers loudly to overpower the sound of crying. It is important to respect the moment of grief and closure that the family needs.

I also serve under the Pastoral ministry to bring Holy Communion to the sick, and I often end up journeying with the family till the funeral.

Recently, I started volunteering at the Assisi Hospice. The work is meaningful as I can support people on their end-of-life journey. 

Prayer and Good Deeds

I firmly believe that there is more to our faith than just believing. I believe in the power of prayer but praying alone is not enough to bring our souls to heaven. We need to do good deeds, and that is to serve God and His people.

For the past 22 years, I have been a volunteer with Food From the Heart, a food charity that feeds the needy in Singapore.  We collect edible unsold bread from bakeries during the night and deliver them to Homes and orphanages, especially during the weekends.

I recall an incident where a friend who was rostered to deliver on a Friday night went golfing with us. It rained heavily after our golf session and he was not in time to collect and deliver to the orphanage. When he delivered it the next morning, he learned that the children had not had breakfast because of his late delivery. I felt guilty because I was the one who made him late. Since then, we learned to be more responsible in our duty.

During this COVID-19 period, I also deliver food parcels from the organisation to needy families, along with collecting bread from the Sunshine factory and delivering them to assigned Homes and Hospices.

Loving As God Loves

Another fulfilling work I am involved in is being a volunteer with the Chong Pang Inter-Racial and Religions Confidence Circles (IRCC). I represent the Catholic Faith and interact with members of other religions. We attend activities and events of the various faiths, respecting each other’s practices and beliefs. Through this openness and respect, we show what it means as we say: we love as God loves.

“the more you give, the more you receive”

Two months ago, I started a Nasi Lemak business with some friends. Incidentally, it became a venue for me to ‘feed the poor’ – our brothers and sisters who approached our stall and had difficulties paying. Many times, we have very good business when we give. As we are taught: the more you give, the more you receive. It is happening in this F&B experience.

I do not look for big things to happen. Having retired from the world of aviation in August 2020, I am praying for God to lead me where I can be of use to Him and His people. 

My prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th anniversary

God our Father, we give thanks to You for your love and guidance to the Government and people of Singapore.

These past 200 years the Catholic Church in Singapore have grown and we pray that with Your continual love and guidance, the Catholic Church will grow to be a vibrant presence and continue to multiply more believers into our Catholic Faith. Amen.

More stories

“Singing is a beautiful way of praying,”  says Jeanne Sng, 11, a member of the Cathedral Children’s Choir

“Singing is a beautiful way of praying,” says Jeanne Sng, 11, a member of the Cathedral Children’s Choir

Scattered Soul to Passionate Believer:  Jennifer Erika Robert and her family  found their way back to God after years of trials

Scattered Soul to Passionate Believer: Jennifer Erika Robert and her family found their way back to God after years of trials

“We May Be Asked To Do More than We Expected”: George Yeo

“We May Be Asked To Do More than We Expected”: George Yeo

Different Backgrounds, One Journey in Life Giving:  Brian and Sue Richmond Recount how God has His Ways in Bringing People Together

Different Backgrounds, One Journey in Life Giving: Brian and Sue Richmond Recount how God has His Ways in Bringing People Together

“We Can Carry Our Cross Well” : Fr Luke Fong

“We Can Carry Our Cross Well” : Fr Luke Fong

“Faith Has To Be Experienced”:  Joesen Francis Wong found God through a painful encounter  and is now discovering the joy of serving

“Faith Has To Be Experienced”: Joesen Francis Wong found God through a painful encounter and is now discovering the joy of serving

Second Chances that Changed Him From Being A Sunday Catholic: Nicholas Chee

Second Chances that Changed Him From Being A Sunday Catholic: Nicholas Chee

“God can save and I want to share that with youths” : Missionary couple Edwyn and Karen De Souza

“God can save and I want to share that with youths” : Missionary couple Edwyn and Karen De Souza

“God Provides If It Is His Will For Me”:  Three Encounters in Deniece Wong’s Faith Journey  Convinces Her God Provides When the Time is Right

“God Provides If It Is His Will For Me”: Three Encounters in Deniece Wong’s Faith Journey Convinces Her God Provides When the Time is Right

Healing Myself, Healing Others:  Sebastian Liew is helping others regain their health  after having surrendered his health to God 20 years ago

Healing Myself, Healing Others: Sebastian Liew is helping others regain their health after having surrendered his health to God 20 years ago

Every Jump, A Leap of Faith: Jonathan Chan

Every Jump, A Leap of Faith: Jonathan Chan

‘With God, all things are possible’ (Matt 19:26):  9 year-old Travis Chua holds this verse close to his heart  in overcoming challenges  with Cerebral Palsy

‘With God, all things are possible’ (Matt 19:26): 9 year-old Travis Chua holds this verse close to his heart in overcoming challenges with Cerebral Palsy

Philip and Christine Seah witnessed how building God-centred relationships have affirmed their family and  enabled them to bring the faith to the workplace

Philip and Christine Seah witnessed how building God-centred relationships have affirmed their family and enabled them to bring the faith to the workplace

For the Love of God: Fr. Michael Arro MEP

For the Love of God: Fr. Michael Arro MEP

Called to walk with death row inmates : Sr. Gerard Fernandez

Called to walk with death row inmates : Sr. Gerard Fernandez

Christopher Wong used to serve for all the wrong reasons until he attended his first Prayer Experience Retreat

Christopher Wong used to serve for all the wrong reasons until he attended his first Prayer Experience Retreat

“Fullness of life comes from being with God and His people”: this revelation came to Sharen Goh, not through a spiritual manifestation, but through a gradual awakening  in a time of grace

“Fullness of life comes from being with God and His people”: this revelation came to Sharen Goh, not through a spiritual manifestation, but through a gradual awakening in a time of grace

“We have but one single response – Lord, we are yours”: Tyrone & Girlie Velasquez’s encounters of the Lord and their daily cooperation to His will give them the strength and joy to journey with families and women going through pain

“We have but one single response – Lord, we are yours”: Tyrone & Girlie Velasquez’s encounters of the Lord and their daily cooperation to His will give them the strength and joy to journey with families and women going through pain

Nilo revels in how boundless, extra-ordinary, profound, and personal God’s love is

Nilo revels in how boundless, extra-ordinary, profound, and personal God’s love is

Journeying with Families of the Dying and the Dead: David Tan sees it as his calling to serve those in need of comfort and support

Journeying with Families of the Dying and the Dead: David Tan sees it as his calling to serve those in need of comfort and support

A calling she wants to fulfil: Jenny on how God is using her as His instrument

A calling she wants to fulfil: Jenny on how God is using her as His instrument

“We are each other’s saint-makers”: Colin and Madelene, couple facilitators helping young adults rediscover the value of significant relationships

“We are each other’s saint-makers”: Colin and Madelene, couple facilitators helping young adults rediscover the value of significant relationships

Internship and Prayer: How God confirmed Fionn’s calling

Internship and Prayer: How God confirmed Fionn’s calling

22-year-old Emma found a whole new outlook after receiving a newfound revelation at 14

22-year-old Emma found a whole new outlook after receiving a newfound revelation at 14

Share This