What Julia (my OFS) writes below is super interesting and explains a lot.
Funerals in the Philippines are a family affair. The process from start to finish is so long, complicated, and time-consuming. When this happens, everybody pitches in as much as they can.
For most, it starts with dealing with the hospital to have the body released to a funeral home. Someone in the family handles the payment and paperwork. This usually takes a couple of days. The paperwork takes even longer. Unless it’s a covid-related death. Then the body would be released to an accredited funeral home and cremated within 24 hours.
At the same time, those at home would start arranging the religious traditions, like calling for a priest or spiritual leader and buying things for the ceremonies.
Another group would be responsible for picking up the clothes and personal items buried with the dead. They would also help get clothes for other family members to wear for the wake/funeral according to tradition.
Some families opt to be at the funeral home when the body is being processed. This is to ensure that the deceased is prepared according to religious practice.
Once the loved one has been released to the family, that’s when the wake begins. This can happen either at home or at a chapel, so another group within the family would be responsible for preparing the place to make it presentable for guests.
Different family members then sign up for shifts to cover the 24-hour vigils.
In the Philippines, it’s a tradition that there always should be someone awake at a wake. The length of the wake can range between a few days to a few weeks, depending on tradition and family requests (like family coming home for the funeral). So someone has to be there all the time.
It’s also expected that you should be able to receive visitors anytime until the funeral. The ones on vigil would also act as hosts and are expected to serve the guest with food and drink. This is why, if you attend a Filipino wake, you’ll sometimes see karaoke machines or card tables. It’s mainly to keep the ones on vigil duty awake.
While this is happening, you have a logistics team that ensures there’s always food and drink at the wake. It’s bad luck to run out. This continues until the funeral actually happens and the body is buried or ashes are taken home.
If the loved one is going to be buried in a cemetery, another team has to handle that. They talk to the cemetery and the local government to make arrangements for the funeral procession. That means talking to the police to provide an escort, renting vehicles to transport the family, getting the tent and the chairs, preparing the food at the cemetery and after the funeral.
I have helped out with several funerals over the years. Not kidding about how complicated it is. We started using a free task management system to keep track of what needed to be done.
That is why the entire extended family asks for leave when there’s a death in the family.
So when your OFS seems like they’re making an excuse saying “My aunt died so I couldn’t work for a week” it’s legit.
One time I had a brand new VA quit even before they started working for me. Their relative died and asking for a few weeks time off was too daunting to them. They quit instead.
Have you dealt with this?