Queen of romance novels wants simple send-off after death

Chiung Yao.
Chiung Yao.

TAIPEI • The latest piece of writing by Taiwan novelist Chiung Yao may be making her legion of fans sit up.

On Sunday, she posted what she called "the most important letter she has ever written", in which she rejected life-prolonging measures and requested a simple send-off after death.

"I'm 79 and will be 80 next year. I have not left Earth earlier because of reasons such as war, poverty, an accident, a disaster or illness. Attaining this age is by heaven's grace. So, from now, I will face death with a smile," she wrote in a letter addressed to her son and daughter-in-law.

She exhorted them that, should she be unable to decide for herself, never to send her for any major operation or into intensive care, reported Apple Daily. She also objected to tube-feeding - "or any type of nameless tubes" - and emergency life-saving measures such as intubation or defibrillation.

She also asked for a family-only final farewell, asking that there be no religious rites, obituaries, public memorials, wake and funeral, opting instead for an eco-frendly burial in a flower garden following cremation - all to be over within a week.

Pointing to the problem of global warming, she also spurned incense- burning and prayers during the annual Qing Ming tomb-sweeping festival.

It was the first time that she set out her heartfelt feelings on Facebook, she said.

The queen of romance novels said she was inspired to pen the letter after reading an essay in a magazine and learning that Taiwan has passed an act that gives people the right to create advance healthcare directives.

"I have approached this letter with a positive mindset," she wrote, adding she had once talked about wishing "to live like a spark burning to the last moment and die like snowflakes floating to earth, becoming dust".

The beloved author also said she was making public her wishes in case her son becomes too overcome by love or pressure and tries to keep alive the shell of her body.

She said she was now at peace to start on her next book or script and work with a grandchild on a book.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'Queen of romance novels wants simple send-off after death'. Print Edition | Subscribe