Funeral in Finland

Week 37
Joensuu, Finland

On Saturday 10.9. was the funeral of Outi Savonlahti. This was the first funeral I joined in Finland. This post’s objective is to briefly share my experience of this ceremony. There are two main motivators for this: (i) Outi was at charge of international affairs at UEF, and she always explained us things about Finland, (ii) it let me a lot food for the though.

In Finland once someone passes away is not buried right away. As far as I understand, there might be weeks in between from the moment someone dies and her/his funeral . During these weeks relatives, friends and others are informed of the particular person passing away, and the necessary arrangements for the funeral are prepared.

For example Outi passed away on August 9th but her funeral was until September 10th .

"Missal" of Outi Savonlahti funeral

“Missal” of Outi Savonlahti funeral

Outi’s  funeral started at 12:00 at the Rauhankappeli, which it is located inside Joensuu’s graveyard.  We started with the religious service with the coffin present. Family, friends and colleges join the “event”. I assume the procedure of the service was according the Lutheran church, however I did not asked this particular detail to anyone.

Location of the religious service

Location of the religious service

The priest started the ceremony with some words for the audience. Next, each one of participants who brought flowers gave them to Outi. If we had written something or we wanted to say something loudly this was the moment to do it. This process is not done in a rush, instead it is harmonious movement of people standing spontaneously, paying respects and getting back to their sits.  I interpreted this moment as offering our respects to her as each one says a personalize good bye, as close a possible to her earthly representation.

Entregando mis flores.

Screenshot when I pay my respects to Outi.

[Side note: A particular fact at this ceremony, and due to the work of Outi, was that the religious service was transmitted via Internet. Thus the photo above was taken by a friend of mine when it was my turn to be at front.]

Once all the flowers were surrounding Outi, I assume the traditional service started. That is, reading fragments of the bible followed by the priest’s  homily. Finnish, English and French were present during the service and during the whole ceremony.

The liturgy had particular moments with music, in some moments we also sang specific pieces.   Everybody new the selected songs due to the program that we were given. Additionally, on the chapel’s wall was indicated the song’s numbers and on each chair of the chapel had a book with the song’s lyrics.  I particularly liked a song which in this occasion included some African drums.  I must say that a lot of religions songs in Finland, as far as I had been exposed to, are not particularly happy. In my opinion – as a Mexican who has been involved in music during my past including religions songs, our church has a lot of happy songs – and in Finland the melodies are more kind of melancholic and nostalgic, so with this little twist of adding African rhythm all changed.

Lyrics of one of the songs at Outi's funeral

Lyrics of one of the songs at Outi’s funeral

At the end of the liturgy  the priest indicated us to pick up our flowers, so we can bring them with us and deposit them to the final destination. Right after the coffin was without flowers, a group of gentlemen came at front and pick up the coffin to carry it out. Then all the participants followed and the funeral procession started.

Starting the procession

Starting the procession

Once in the location where Outi was buried the priest offered some words. The coffin was deposited and if someone wanted,  it was the possibility to take some sand and place it inside the “hole”. Afterwards, a cover was put above and we were invited to locate our flowers there.

Location where the body of Outi rests.

Location where the body of Outi rests.

When I did my research on how to prepare myself for this event, I learned that in  Finland you do not have to buy only white flowers for the funeral.  You can get other colors, as for example the flowers that the person used to like. On my case I gave to Outi the following bunch:

Flowers I got for Outi. She always was elegantly dress, mainly in black and white with a touch of red present.

Flowers I got for Outi.
She always was elegantly dress, mainly in black and white with a touch of red present.

Next we  – all the people present at the funeral – were invited to share some moments together on the name of Outi.  The tradition, as I read before, is to gather in a house. However, in this case we were invited to Joensuu Ortodoksinen Seurakuntasali.

Once all the participants were at the specific location the program started. Outi’s godson was the ceremony master and several speeches were given for and about Outi.

Gathering together in Outi's name

Gathering together in Outi’s name

Outi was a special person and relevant figures came to her funeral.  For example speeches came from the  Ambassador of France, followed by the academic rector of the UEF, the priest, it was a pianist who played a couple of melodies…. then it was a pause for eating. Afterwards the president of Joensuu’s Rotary Club offered some words followed by the President of Joensuu’s French association and some family members too. Desert was offered and to finalized it was read aloud the condolence cards that were sent to her from all over the world.

In between the speeches one was encourage to talk on the tables about our memories with Outi. It was a nice event. For me it was difficult at times to do not clap.  You know, after listen to  nice words and good memories my inner emotion was to clap,  but I needed to keep quiet as the rest of the audience.  For me it is still difficult to understand that after a wonderful light that each speech depicted due to the life of someone, we could not join the words with the clap, instead after the speech complete quietness returned bringing me back to the sadness of the current loss.  All these was new and strange experience for me.

An anecdote comment that I got at the end, is that Outi helped to plan her funeral. I have not question about the possibility that she did. It was so beautiful and perfect, taking care of so many details as she always did with all what it was entrust to her.

Outi  left a legacy, no only to each one of us who met her, but also to future generations. There will be a foundation Outi Savonlahti to support females from developing countries searching to study their bachelors abroad.

This was my first experience in a Finnish funeral with the departure of a special person. Thank you Outi for teaching me constantly and share moments with me!

 

First decision: stop the busy loop

Week 18
Joensuu, Finland

In the last days my mood has not been particularly high. My inner knows that something is not correct. Then I wrote this post and  I came to my blog, to publish it, and I realized that most of the time I come here when I need to reflect or to rant. :O   At the beginning of this 2016, my reflection were in reference to focus and thinking…. but a deeper problem is present.

What is the problem? Honestly, I am blessed. I am healthy and complete, I have my love ones, I can pay the rent and have food over my table, I live in a peaceful country, I have a rich life and sleep well at nights. I am trying to help others, pushing my start up and my research, looking to collaborate, … So, what is it wrong?

 [For the records, I acknowledge that after my PhD graduation I was completely out. I was mentally, emotionally and even physically exhausted. It is taken me an “eternity” to reconnect myself with myself, 3.5 years and counting. Yes, it is impressive! The current diagnosis about my self-connection is: I am advancing, still I am not 100% connected but on the path. Then, what is wrong?]

One thing that has been bothering me lately is “cash flow”. Building a company from scratch, as a research spin-off it is NOT easy. I often say, ubium is my second PhD, because in so many ways my PhD journey is repeating in here. For example, once I wrote that it was until my PhD that I started to think, and now it has been until ubium that I am learning to “make money”. Wondering why I did not learn those things much earlier? Ok, there are answers to that, but it is not the focus of this post.

If cash flow is what it is bothering at the moment then I should acknowledge that I am aware that money is only symptom. I know there is something beyond which it is the root of the problem. Need to understand what is wrong?

During this week while my inner is working towards understanding myself, two events have influenced my reflection:

Event #1
I was invited at a DRAFT event Karelia University of Applied Science as panelist to answer particular questions about start a business. There, Jyrki Saarinen, who was also a panelist, and two of his advises were so good to me:
Advice 1: Busy does not mean to be productive.
Advice 2: Take decisions

Event #2
In this vblog of Santiago Zavala (I had been following him since October 2015) , he also stresses on the second advice of Jyrki.

Taking decisions is fundamental in all what we do in life. Actually, to do not take a decision is a decision in itself.

I am aware how DIFFICULT is to take decisions especially when it is unclear all that surrounds that decision to be taken. On my “personal back-channel”  I complain often because I need to take decisions constantly . Simultaneously, I am aware that when I know what I want, decisions are easier. So my solution is, one should focus and nevertheless one needs to time think.

However, back again to the fundamental question: what do I want?  the answer to this question belongs to me connecting to myself. I see life as juggling with different aspects of the self, and one has to take care of all of them. As time passes by,  I realize answering this question is a constant process.   Because we are often in our lives busy surviving, we do not reflect upon this fundamental question often enough, due to we are always running out of time. We are always busy.  Hence, I should start by reflecting upon the Jyrki’s advice #1, why I am so busy to do not have time to think what do I want?

In my search to understand the “busy does not mean productive” I found Paul Davis’ post “Why Do We Glorify Being Too Busy?. In his article, Davis first analyses what busy means in our time. He agrees that the person who best summarizes the current popular opinion about busyness is Tim Kreider, author of “The Busy Trap”. Kreiders states that today ’[b]eing busy is a virtue, so people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time.’

Personally, I do not get terrified if I have “empty time”. However, I notice that I am conditioned to be busy. If I am “busy” I think I am producing something hence I am not “wasting” my time. That is one important aspect for me. But at the moment, when I am stopping to think what do I want, I realized I am in a terrifying loop:

  1. I am busy because I need to produce. Everything is needed for yesterday!  I feel fine when I am producing. The feeling of achieving is one of the best ones!
  2. Due that I am busy I cannot take essential decisions, because I do not have clarity of what do I want. Decisions which are within my current “busy” activities and which are clear for me, are decisions easy to take. However the decisions which belong to deep purposes are not easy.  It makes me angry and frustrated when I must take decisions that I do not know, or I am not clear about them.
  3. To clarify my thoughts I need time to think and reflect. I am aware my thinking process requires time and effort. However, the world surrounding me, tells me there is not time for that , everything should be done yesterday.
  4. The only decision I take is to let my self-defense mechanism to take over. Due to indirect and direct pressure to make things for yesterday, I do not allocate the resources to think because I am busy producing things (back to number 1)

So, first decision: I must stop my terrible loop!

Games and Open Data

Week 7
Joensuu, Finland

Mikko invited me to look at the video embedded in the article Secret Lab: It’s OK to abandon your project.

When I started to look the video it automatically remind me to the workshop we gave in Vietnam last year.

Getting really interested to play with different types of open data from Mexico, Finland…..

Let’s see what will come. Meanwhile enjoy the video:

 

Thinking takes time & planning fallacy

Week 6
Joensuu, Finland

Ooooh My!  In this week, I almost did not cross items from my TO DO list.  Instead, the list got more items. What does this mean?  Because according to toggle this week I worked over 47hrs, then what did I do? Probably, my more honest answer is:  thinking takes time.

Thinking is critical to whatever we do. I have several students who are impatient, and when I push them to think I can see how painful is for them.  Well, in this era we are mainly consumers and my impression is that we are always in the rush.  How was in early XX century or XIX century, no idea, but my assumption is that it might have been more relax because at least the influx of information was not as massive at it is nowadays.

Today, at least in the worlds I live in (academia and entrepreneurship) the sentence one listens often is: it is for yesterday. E.g. we need to submit the application tomorrow, the publication must be submitted today, you need to send over the specification for the development now, publish in social media, respond emails, remember we need to be the first ones doing this, ….

* Sight * I might be old fashion, but things need time. Additionally,  I get blocked when I feel overwhelm.

To my students I often tell them: knowledge is for our brain as food is for our stomach, it requires digestion time to get into our system. Once you read something it does not mean you will understand it all, you will need to work through it, let it settle in your head, questioning it, recall, etc. and one day you will understand it and you will be able to use that information and build upon it. Growing takes time, and it is a painful process (in my humble opinion). It  takes time for a seed to germinate, for a baby to learn to walk or to grow her teeth.  The time when apparently nothing happens, is a time where we must nurture ourselves the most so we are ready for the blossom time.

In my case, some decision can be painfully “slow” to take. I do not have all the answers, then I need to think. However, I must be aware to do not freeze myself and do not move. One MUST do something at some moment.

Then, I heard about planning fallacy, first proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and it let me thinking. Planning fallacy is a problem of our human race. Examples are plenty as we can read in this article. In Spanish we said: mal de muchos consuelo de todos ( English equivalent might be: Two in distress makes sorrow less).

However I want to do something about this. That is balance a natural optimistic nature with a my memory of how much it takes to do stuff. I insist thinking takes time!!! [as it does writing 🙂 ]

(Note: I start to write the post on 2.2. but it was finalized and published until 16.2.)

 

2016:01 – January’s review

Week 5
Joensuu, Finland

Since 2001 we,  Kai and I,  create a motto for the starting year.  Usually this motto is related to our current present and dreams. This year’s motto is: Discipline to Focus.

2016 motto’s is really a NEED to achieve for myself. Thus, in this year I am actively monitoring how I am getting DISCIPLINE. It is CHALLENGING for me!!! but let’s do it!

Also, in this 2016 I start to follow the youtube channel of Santiago Zavala. I got the recommendation to see this channel from Jorge Zavala, who I met at the  Red Global meeting last October. It turns out that yesterday Santiago also stressed on reviewing the month’s goals.

Honestly, my personal process is not as structured yet to have clear monthly goals. No idea if it will reach that level of structure one day. Nevertheless, I do have a “wishing list” or “dreams”, and within my control chaos eventually everything will be processed as monthly goals. Lets be honest, to organize my natural chaos requires a conscientious effort, and simultaneously I want to keep being myself. I do not want to get that disconnected as when I finalize my PhD.  So, one step at the time.

So, what happen in January:

– I start new habits, e.g. cleaning up. Look my work computer, first time EVER is that clean!!! (note for the files: only exception of this level of cleanness is when a computer is new)

Desktop

Desktop

– At the moment what it needs a HUGE lift is my efficiency. I am using toggl to track my time. (note for the files: toggl is a recommended tool to use)  It is important to know:  how do I invest my time? Because one thing is to have a “feeling” or “believe” about how one uses one’s time, and other completely different how the time is used.

So in January I recorded that I worked: 146 hrs. That is OK!

But the efficiency of those hours are in doubt. This is a clear goal of improvement in February.

January's time

At the moment it feels back as being at PhD student.

To grow up is PAINFUL!