Calling out to the ocean waves for their loved ones to retur

RE: the China Airlines tragedy of May 25th

The TV stations recently had coverage of about 500 family members of the passengers who went out on an ocean liner and were calling out to the ocean wayes for their loved ones (or the souls of their loved ones) to return home. Many of the family members also scattered min2 jyr3 (ghost money) into the ocean, and some waved various items of clothing.

Some local Taiwanese asked me if westerners have any such customs of “leading the ghosts back home.” I said no. Then they asked me “What sort of customs do westerners have in dealing with such accidents?”

I found my knowledge inadequate to answer this question. Can anyone provide any insight as to what western customs are in this regard?

I had always thought that the soul could travel directly to heaven (or to the Gate of St. Peter or whatever), however the Chinese claim that the soul needs to come home first and there is a 49 day waiting period, with different ceremonies that need to be observed every seven days.

If anyone can provide detailed commentary on western customs (or the lack thereof), and the accompanying rationale, I would be appreciative.


As I recall from several air disasters in the States people were leaving flowers where the accident occured. The one incident that I recall the most is the TWA flight that went down in the Atlantic a few years ago. I remember seeing on TV that loved ones were placing flowers on the beach or throwing them into the ocean.

However, the only custom that I am familiar with is praying, bust this really isn’t a custom. I guess it depends on if you are religious or not.

As far as a waiting period for the soul to reach heaven, I am a little behind in my religious studies so I cannot answer that.