About 30 friends and family gathered to mourn 21-year-old Supul Jayasinghe at the breakwater in Flatrock, N.L. on Saturday — 10 days after the Memorial University student died tragically in the nearby waters.
On Apr. 21, Supul slipped off some coastal rocks and fell into the ocean while he was chasing his dog, Neo. He had just finished his final exams and he was celebrating by taking a walk with his parents, Don and Chadima.
"My family actually is devastated, it is not that easy," Supul's father Don Jayasinghe said when asked how he was coping.
"It takes time to heal, but the gap he left is never going to be filled — forever — it remains in our hearts," he said.
"But keep hope, that's the only thing, living with hope."
Family and friends laid flowers and lit candles during a short ceremony to remember Supul. His father said he was a well-rounded, "precious boy" who was dedicated to community service and wanted to be a doctor.
George Mann, who eulogised Supul during the short ceremony, says it's the first time the province's Sri Lankan community has experienced such a tragic loss.
"It's a shock to us, it's very difficult," he said.
Mann called the ceremony "really touching," but said there isn't Buddhist temple in the province, and pandemic restrictions make it difficult for the community to gather.
"So this is the best that we tried ourselves," he said
He said a Buddhist monk in Halifax couldn't come to the province because of travel restrictions due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia.
"The majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhists," Mann said, "So they believe that your life does not end here, so you will have another life and that continues."
He said Sri Lankan-Canadians and Buddhists across the country have been holding ceremonies to remember Supul, which the Jayasinghe family says they're thankful for.
Meanwhile, they're also offering gratitude to those who helped search for their son.
"We are grateful for the time and effort of the RNC, Coast Guard and Rovers Search and Rescue team, also to the pilots who volunteered their flight time to further the search," said Don Jayasinghe, calling the memorial "a beautiful farewell for our precious son."
"We are saddened by the passing of our beloved son Supul. Your presence helped to lighten our burden."