“There are more here than were expected,” whispered Brita von Polgar.
She was sitting on the beach in the darkness, looking out over the candles and flowers floating in the water, while other mourners stood in the shallow sea holding each other.
Brita von Polgar lost her husband and her two small children when the tsunami hit Khao Lak on Boxing Day last year. After having spent a month in Thailand, visiting places where she went with her family and where they died, she says she has tried to understand what happened in order that she may move on.
I don’t know if it’s possible – how can you? Maybe this is just a way of easing the sorrow, I don’t know,” she said.
She explained that she is in two minds over the official ceremony.
“It feels hard, almost too much. But I suppose you can only appreciate the gesture.”
The ceremony included speeches, songs and prayers in the warm tropical dusk.
The poet Ylva Eggehorn read her own work, ‘Do not be afraid’ and as the sun disappeared beyond the horizon the relatives walked down to the sea between burning marshal lights.
Pether Broman, a priest in the Swedish Church, greeted many of those who came to Thailand before the ceremony.
“When they arrive they’re unhappy, full of anguish,” he said.
But after a while here, when they’ve had the opportunity to see the place where the unthinkable happened, or to see again the place where the tidal wave swept everything away, many of them are relieved – as relieved as possible.”