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Author Topic: Mourning and Death  (Read 7632 times)
Juni
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« Topic Start: June 14, 2008, 08:05:14 pm »

There was a death recently in my family (my very elderly great-grandmother, who had a very full and happy life) and it's had me thinking about death, the process of mourning, and how religion relates to that. I've also been noticing the difference between my reaction to her death compared to my reactions to the deaths of two school friends. So, some questions. (I apologize for rambling, but that's been the state of mind my head has locked into lately...)

    - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
    - Does your path have any rituals or practices related to the treatment of the dead? What about the mourners (ie, for how mourners should be treated)?
    - Does your path have any practices designed for the mourners themselves? If you have lost a loved one and participated in said practices, did you find them comforting or otherwise useful?
    - If your path doesn't include the above, do you wish it did? For those creating their own path, will you include anything like that?

I realize it's a whole slew of questions! Sorry about that. But I'm very curious...
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« Reply #1: June 14, 2008, 09:06:46 pm »


I think it's simplest to give you a link to Buddhist funeral practices.

http://www.buddhanet.net/funeral.htm
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« Reply #2: June 14, 2008, 09:09:28 pm »

I think it's simplest to give you a link to Buddhist funeral practices.

What branch of Buddhism is it? Do you know how (if) they vary between the various branches?
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« Reply #3: June 14, 2008, 09:40:31 pm »

What branch of Buddhism is it? Do you know how (if) they vary between the various branches?

If you read the link you'll see it covers basics of the main branches, Theravedan and Mahayana, with some information on Tibetan and Chinese. It's more complicated than it would seem, there's a lot of blending and mixing and borrowing.
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« Reply #4: June 14, 2008, 09:42:32 pm »

There was a death recently in my family (my very elderly great-grandmother, who had a very full and happy life) and it's had me thinking about death, the process of mourning, and how religion relates to that. I've also been noticing the difference between my reaction to her death compared to my reactions to the deaths of two school friends. So, some questions. (I apologize for rambling, but that's been the state of mind my head has locked into lately...)

    - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
    - Does your path have any rituals or practices related to the treatment of the dead? What about the mourners (ie, for how mourners should be treated)?
    - Does your path have any practices designed for the mourners themselves? If you have lost a loved one and participated in said practices, did you find them comforting or otherwise useful?
    - If your path doesn't include the above, do you wish it did? For those creating their own path, will you include anything like that?

I realize it's a whole slew of questions! Sorry about that. But I'm very curious...

First, I am sorry for your loss. Even under the  very best circumstances, like with your grandma, there is still a loss that must be acknowledged.

My path is my own, and I have no set rituals or proscribed ways of handling this. However, I have had a disproportionate amount of death in my life, for my age-both my parents are gone, all grandparents, and a sibling. My experience is that;

There is existence after death-I do find comfort in this, and practice ancestor worship, to a certain extent. Both my parents and my older sister (who we lost to AIDS in '89) have come to me and helped me out since they have passed.

I don't have specific death rituals, as to me the important thing is to embrace the death rituals of the person who has died. All my people came from different faiths (even within the family) and I did whatever they felt would be right, or whatever they specifically told us to do. I honor my dead people on their birthdays, death days, and at Samhain.

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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #5: June 14, 2008, 10:25:50 pm »

There was a death recently in my family (my very elderly great-grandmother, who had a very full and happy life) and it's had me thinking about death, the process of mourning, and how religion relates to that. I've also been noticing the difference between my reaction to her death compared to my reactions to the deaths of two school friends. So, some questions. (I apologize for rambling, but that's been the state of mind my head has locked into lately...)

    - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
    - Does your path have any rituals or practices related to the treatment of the dead? What about the mourners (ie, for how mourners should be treated)?
    - Does your path have any practices designed for the mourners themselves? If you have lost a loved one and participated in said practices, did you find them comforting or otherwise useful?
    - If your path doesn't include the above, do you wish it did? For those creating their own path, will you include anything like that?

I realize it's a whole slew of questions! Sorry about that. But I'm very curious...

This is a really intresting thing for me right now. I have never lost someone as close as a family member, friends yes but I think the mourning for someone in your family is different. I found out a couple weeks ago that my dad is dying and now have to face my feelings on that. In the last 2 years there has been no contact with either him or my mom so that throws a twist into it as well. So I am very intrested in the replies you get....
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« Reply #6: June 14, 2008, 10:43:45 pm »

    - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
    - Does your path have any rituals or practices related to the treatment of the dead? What about the mourners (ie, for how mourners should be treated)?
    - Does your path have any practices designed for the mourners themselves? If you have lost a loved one and participated in said practices, did you find them comforting or otherwise useful?
    - If your path doesn't include the above, do you wish it did? For those creating their own path, will you include anything like that?

My boyfriend killed himself about nine months ago, so all of this was really thrown to the fore to me then and continues to be there.

I'm still looking for and cobbling together a path, as it were, but my personal belief is that there is existence after death. I do find some comfort in that, and it's something I had not considered before his death. I think at this point I need to believe that he's found somewhere the peace that eluded him in life, which might be a selfish etiology for religious belief, but there you are.

As for treatment of the dead, I've recently read Starhawk's The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and really like the ritual for washing the dead she presents. I didn't have the choice on how to treat the dead when by the dead we meant my boyfriend, but in the event of another death I'm going to remember that.

I don't have practices around mourning except praying, which does help.
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« Reply #7: June 14, 2008, 11:18:13 pm »

My boyfriend killed himself about nine months ago, so all of this was really thrown to the fore to me then and continues to be there.


{{{{psimon}}}}} i am so sorry, how awful Sad
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #8: June 14, 2008, 11:50:03 pm »

I realize it's a whole slew of questions! Sorry about that. But I'm very curious...

I can't answer your questions separately, because for me it's all sort of connected.  My specific path doesn't have official rituals of death and mourning.  They are more society and family specific.

As an outsider to the death, i.e. a friend and supporter but only a mourner in an 'I'll miss them' kind of way (rather than actual pain) I know my 'job'.  Make and deliver food, provide rides, send my dh to do yard work, listen as required, add my own memories of the person when stories are being told.  Be there for the people actually in pain, and attend their rituals as invited or expected.

As an insider:  sit vigil when death approaches, if the death is expected.  Drop everything and get there if it is unexpected.  Say good-bye whether it is before or after - the good-bye is essential.  Tell the loved one's stories to those who want to hear them.  Allow people who want to 'do something' do it without letting them feel awkward.  It doesn't matter if the food they bring is something I can't eat; they have done something to help.

Cry when I must.  Hold it in when it will make things worse or when someone else has a greater need.  Tell the person's stories.  Laugh and make jokes with the other mourners.  Speak, write and recite poetry, sing, etc. at the memorial.  Follow the deceased's rituals instead of my own if they are different.

Understand how awkward it can be for others to be around a mourner, even though they really want to be there in support or respect - accept their prayers, their platitudes, their clumsiness of expression if they are clumsy.  Understand that other people grieve, too.  My pain does not make me the centre of attention.  Accept the support and kind attention of others, and when it is time to be alone or to be just family be gracious in retiring.

Rituals of grief and adjustment can be mine, but rituals of good-bye must be the deceased's.

I'm getting fuzzy and losing my train of thought here.  It is something I've given a lot of thought to lately, and there has been a fair amount of discussion within my family and directly with my mom.  I know my dad will find comfort in his religion's ways and rites, but he won't impose them on her memorial.  One is for him, one is for her.

I know we'll tell stories.

Absent
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« Reply #9: June 15, 2008, 06:15:30 am »

    - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
Well, perhaps I can't strictly be said to have a path...

I don't believe in an afterlife.  I don't think there's anything at all after death, as far as any kind of soul, etc, goes.  I don't necessarily find this comforting, but I think it's how things are, and the world isn't going to change to make me happy.  In the absence of joy, I simply have to accept it and move on.  If there's any comfort, it's that at least when I die and cease to exist, I won't be bothered by it.  I mean, to be bothered, I'd have to exist.  So I think there's a kind of peace, if you will.[/list]
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« Reply #10: June 15, 2008, 10:10:38 am »

Quote
Quote from: Juni on June 14, 2008, 07:05:14 pm

      - What beliefs (if any) does your path have regarding death? Does your path espouse any existence after death? Do you find comfort in this belief?
      - Does your path have any rituals or practices related to the treatment of the dead? What about the mourners (ie, for how mourners should be treated)?
      - Does your path have any practices designed for the mourners themselves? If you have lost a loved one and participated in said practices, did you find them comforting or otherwise useful?
      - If your path doesn't include the above, do you wish it did? For those creating their own path, will you include anything like that?


I realize it's a whole slew of questions! Sorry about that. But I'm very curious...

Wow, entire books (literally) have been written on how Jews deal with death and their beliefs of the afterlife.  I will answer as concisely as possible:

1.  Typically, Jews believe in some sort of life after death, but the beliefs are incredibly diverse.  Some believe the souls depart the body and go to live with God.  Some believe in bodily resurrection.  Some believe in reincarnation.  Some believe that souls that are not perfectly righteous are tested and purified in Gehenna for up to 12 months before the soul is released.  The most common thread running through Jewish beliefs about the afterlife is that our God is a fair and righteous deity, and thus we will be dealt with fairly after this life is over.  I find this idea to be comforting...I don't have to worry about the exact nature of what happens when I cross to the next life because my God will guide and care for me.

2.  Judaism has huge number of rituals related to death and dying.  As with anything in Judaism, there is a huge variety in practices, but the list below is some of the common traditions.

A.  Bodies are not embalmed or cremated, and are buried quickly...often the day of death or the next day.
B.  Traditionally bodies are buried in simple shrouds and plain wooden coffins.
C.  Families rend their garments as a sign of grief.  Often this means wearing a black ribbon that has been torn.
D.  Funerals tend to be quiet, simple affairs without a ceremony that corresponds to a wake or visitation.
E.  Families traditionally sit Shiva (mourn in the home) for 7 days.  During this time, they do not leave the home, but others come to the house and visit, bring food and so forth.
F.  Following the death of the a parent, it is traditional for the eldest son to repeat the Kaddish (prayer for the dead) for 11 months.  The Kaddish is also traditionally said every year at the Yahrzeit (anniversary) of the death.
G.  It is tradition to place pebbles at the site of the grave as a way to continue to honor the person by adding to their marker with new stones for their grave.

Each of these traditions has a host of smaller traditions that accompany them.  (For example, families sitting Shiva traditionally sit on low benches and cover the mirrors in the home.)  I find the rituals associated with death to be very useful.  When you are sitting in a strange time out of time that comes with death, it is extremely comforting to have established rituals.  It gives you a plan to move forward, and a path to conduct your actions so you aren't just completely overwhelmed by the moment.

Sperran
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Juni
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« Reply #11: June 15, 2008, 10:17:52 am »


((rose)) I'm sorry for your losses as well.

May I ask how you honor your dead on the various days? Do you have specific actions for specific people, or do you have a more all-encompassing approach? For example- when my grandmother's birthday comes around in January, I intend to have canned peaches, because that's one of my strongest memories of being in her home. But Samhain will arrive before then, and I intend to do a wider-scale, all encompassing ritual for my beloved dead.
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Juni
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« Reply #12: June 15, 2008, 10:18:44 am »


((((FallenSaynte))))) I'm sorry to hear about your dad and family situation. I hope things work out for the best.
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« Reply #13: June 15, 2008, 10:22:19 am »

My boyfriend killed himself about nine months ago, so all of this was really thrown to the fore to me then and continues to be there.

I'm still looking for and cobbling together a path, as it were, but my personal belief is that there is existence after death. I do find some comfort in that, and it's something I had not considered before his death. I think at this point I need to believe that he's found somewhere the peace that eluded him in life, which might be a selfish etiology for religious belief, but there you are.

As for treatment of the dead, I've recently read Starhawk's The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, and really like the ritual for washing the dead she presents. I didn't have the choice on how to treat the dead when by the dead we meant my boyfriend, but in the event of another death I'm going to remember that.

I don't have practices around mourning except praying, which does help.

(((((Psimon))))) I'm so sorry! I can't imagine what that was like to live through.

If I may ask about your prayer practices- do you pray to a particular deity? What does your prayer involve? (I'm looking for some clarification because I immediately associate prayers for the dead with Catholicism, and moving the soul out of Purgatory into Heaven. So I'm curious to see why else someone would pray for the dead. Actually- I'm assuming you're prayer for the dead, when I should clarify whether you're praying for or to. Lips sealed)
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« Reply #14: June 15, 2008, 10:37:52 am »

Follow the deceased's rituals instead of my own if they are different.

Rituals of grief and adjustment can be mine, but rituals of good-bye must be the deceased's.

I find this very interesting- it played a part in my grandmother's passing. She was Methodist, but her daughter and that side of the family, who lived nearby and were therefore making all the arrangements, are Roman Catholic. There was some worry that it would be a Catholic funeral. (It turned out to be neither- I don't know what denomination the priest was, but it wasn't Roman Catholic and my father didn't recognize it as Methodist.)

I feel like there's something else to say on the matter, but I'm not sure what.

And I'm sorry about all this talk with your mother- I know it's been rough for you. (((Absent)))
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