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Author Topic: Mourning and Death  (Read 7631 times)
Juni
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« Reply #15: June 15, 2008, 10:42:11 am »


I use path in the sense of "the way you're going", as opposed to someone's religion, since I know not everyone has one. Smiley

Not believing in anything after death, how do you feel about the rituals of others when asked or required to participate in them? I know a few atheists who also don't believe in anything beyond death, and they have a general contempt for the rituals regarding the deceased; they have a very "well, they're dead, let's get on with it" sort of attitude. Going back to Absent's post, where the rites for the deceased should be their own- do your desires (if you have any) for what becomes of you after death reflect your beliefs, or are they designed to comfort those you leave behind?
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Juni
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« Reply #16: June 15, 2008, 11:07:34 am »


I know a little about Jewish practice, but not a lot; mostly what I've gleaned from laid-back Jewish family (I don't know what they consider themselves, but only the Rabbi and his wife keep kosher all the time).

Am I correct in understanding that the Kaddish is (or was originally) said to help souls move through that 12 month period in Gehenna?
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rose
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« Reply #17: June 15, 2008, 11:08:23 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.

On my parent's birthdays, I try and do something I know they like and usually talk to my siblings-story sharing, as marilyn noted, is very important, and I have found it gets more important over time. Your idea of having peaches in January sounds exactly like the kind of thing I would do. On their death days, I generally do some kind of little ritual, whatever seems important that year that day, there is no script.  My relationship w/ my dad was very problematic, but honoring is death and birth days has helped heal a lot of wounds there. My mom died just before Thanksgiving, so that one my sibs and I do together, on the holiday, b/c that day is now part of our mother's death story. On Samhain, we set up a family ancestors altar at home, with food and drink and flowers, and I usually participate in one of the big public rituals hereabouts around then too.
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  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 #18: June 15, 2008, 11:12:14 am »


I was at a Pow-Wow yesterday and one woman was dancing backwards (we all danced clockwise...this woman danced counterclockwise) in honor of a loved one that had just crossed over. I found it moving, and fascinating.
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« Reply #19: June 15, 2008, 11:18:28 am »

Am I correct in understanding that the Kaddish is (or was originally) said to help souls move through that 12 month period in Gehenna?

Yes.  Gehenna is essentially like Christian Hell, complete with torture, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  Unlike Christian Hell, it is not a permanent state (lasting for a maximum of 12 months) and there are also respites that may be achieved during the time in Gehenna.  Traditionally, this has been on the Sabbath day and whenever the Kaddish is prayed on your behalf. 

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rose
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« Reply #20: June 15, 2008, 11:31:25 am »

Yes.  Gehenna is essentially like Christian Hell, complete with torture, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  Unlike Christian Hell, it is not a permanent state (lasting for a maximum of 12 months) and there are also respites that may be achieved during the time in Gehenna.  Traditionally, this has been on the Sabbath day and whenever the Kaddish is prayed on your behalf. 

Sperran

For a year after my (Jewish) dad died, I had dreams of him screaming, and then they stopped Sad I wondered often if it was him sending us his experiences of Gehenna or me experiencing my childhood fear of it, or both.
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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 #21: June 15, 2008, 11:54:03 am »

Not believing in anything after death, how do you feel about the rituals of others when asked or required to participate in them? I know a few atheists who also don't believe in anything beyond death, and they have a general contempt for the rituals regarding the deceased; they have a very "well, they're dead, let's get on with it" sort of attitude.

I might not have a religion, but I have a number of standards I try to live by.  One of these is 'be polite/ don't be an arsehoe.'  I'm better at being polite than being a nice person, but...
While I don't think funerals etc are going to have any effect on the person who died (eg, allow them to rest/ proceed to X afterlife, etc), I think they are important to the people left behind.

Having lost a grandmother last year, the funeral is still relatively fresh in my mind (it was held just a few days before Christmas).  I don't tend to cry easily, so actually being able to cry was reassuring (I have this mild worry that I'm a sociopath, so I'm always relieved when I manage to cry).  I don't know that it necessarily helped me, but I know that it was of benefit to others.  It was nice to see some of my grandmother's neighbours seeing off the cars as we headed to the crematorium.  And I was grateful to my friend and his family for coming to the service...

Sorry, I'm rambling.  In any case, I think I'd have come to terms with the death anyway - I'm not sure the funeral was critical.  But people seem to feel ithelps them, and I suspect there is something in that.

Plus, as a member of an extended family, I consider it as part of my duty to take part in these group rituals.  I might not believe in them, but other members of the family do.  And I also feel I owe it to my mother to look like a son who reflects well on her.

For the shorter answer: the rituals don't mean much to me, beyond their social/psychological value, but I appreciate their importance to others, and don't consider it a hefty burden to show respect to that.

Quote
Going back to Absent's post, where the rites for the deceased should be their own- do your desires (if you have any) for what becomes of you after death reflect your beliefs, or are they designed to comfort those you leave behind?

I haven't thought of it a great deal.  I think I'd want to be remembered well, but the service...  I'm not fussed.  I'd happily settle for a Christian burial, but who knows what will be the custom when I die?  Hell, I'm not going to have kids, so there's always the chance there won't be any family as such burying me.  <shrugs>

I think it might be cool to have a 'funny' funeral though. Smiley
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« Reply #22: June 15, 2008, 12:27:45 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...)

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

When I lost my grandparents, rapid fire within 6mo of eachother - my grandmother had taken care of my diabetic grandfather for many many years, and without him I think she was lonely and lost purpose; I was pregnant, so I was unable to fly out for the funeral.

I think this sort of dragged out the process for me, so instead of it really hitting home from the get go, it took a few years to really sink in.

We knew it was coming though, because she had been diagnosed with lung cancer - again, she was on her last 1/3 of a lung from a lifetime of smoking.  It metastasized and got into her brain, and at that point we knew the clock was ticking.  I was able to fly out a few months before, and I found that not only was I saying goodbye to her, I was in a way saying goodbye to my childhood.  The place I spent my summers, the peace and joy that lived in that place.  I spent an afternoon sitting on her porch memorizing in detail everything I could see.  I can still draw the view from memory today. 

We spent a night talking, sort of saying goodbye, before I had to go home.  My sister never really did this.  When confronted with the "this is it"  your last chance, she shut down, and regressed to a very childlike place, on her behalf, she was 15, so it was very overwhelming.  It was a night of memories and was very bittersweet.  I don't even really remember what we talked about. 

Every now and again I dream about her - it's been seven years, so it's not like it's a fresh wound or anything, but every time I do, it's like loosing her again.  Having those last few grains slip between your fingers, and watching a door close that you can't open, or follow the person who left through it.

I don't believe in life after death.  I believe we carry a part of that person with us, and that they live through us in our memories.

As for the roles of different persons in mourning, I'd have to say my beliefs regarding that are pretty parallel to Maris
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
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« Reply #23: June 15, 2008, 01:51:45 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?

The ancient Egyptians were kind of notorious for putting a lot of thought into the whole afterlife thing. Wink

A few critical points (this is not my area of expertise, but it's my current research focus):

- the dead are still a part of our community, and in fact are ideal intercessors for the living with the gods due to hanging out in the unseen world.
- like all community relationships, there are bonds of mutual obligation between the living and the dead; our remembrances and gifts sustain them, that they may sustain us.
- one of the souls (the ka) is the incarnation of ancestral energy, our family-soul, which is the basis of life.  To die is to return to one's ka, to pass that energy back into one's family line.
- Amenti is thought to be much like the living world, with better magic taking care of menial drudgery and concerns like disease.

I don't, so much, believe.  I have experiences that I choose to interpret as contact with my maternal grandfather, who is first in my list of honored ancestors.  I am strongly agnostic on the whole afterlife thing, but conduct my praxis as if the expectations of my religion are roughly accurate.

Quote
- 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)?

Extensive in ancient times; modern is a bit shakier.  The ancients had extensive enbalming treatment of the khat (body), the option of hiring professional mourners, and set up shrines (or in the case of te king, temples) to take offerings to the dead.

The transition from life to death is considered ... difficult.  The living can arm and protect the newly dead with their prayers and ease the transition with their grief.  (This is partially ancient practice and partly something I drew from some books about a modern West African religious practice.)  One can collect knowledge for making the transition easier when alive, be provided it by one's mourners, or hope that the gods and spirits will make the way easier.

I would tend to believe that people who died content and aligned with the universe will find it easy to find the straight road to Amenti, because they are in tune with the flow of things.  The more distressed a person was at their death, the more chaotic energies will be able to affect them, and the more important it is to offer them mourning to protect and energise them.  (This is not only for the sake of the deceased; a spirit that doesn't 'make it' will probably become hostile to the living, in effect if not intent.)

Quote
- 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?

The ancients shaved their hair, ripped their clothes, anointed themselves with ashes, and wailed mourning.  I have not tried it.
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Marilyn (ABSENTMINDED)
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« Reply #24: June 15, 2008, 04:39:48 pm »

The ancients shaved their hair, ripped their clothes, anointed themselves with ashes, and wailed mourning.  I have not tried it.

My husband cut his hair very short just before our personal vows.  Not shaved, but very close.  It's half-way down his back now and he does not plan to cut it again until I die, if I go first as is most likely.

I have several male cousins who shave their heads when someone close to them (mother, father, mate, etc.) dies.  We're not big on the weeping and wailing, but a shaven head is a quietly visible sign, even if one does run the risk of being mistaken for a skinhead for a while.

Absent
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« Reply #25: June 20, 2008, 12:34:12 am »

(((((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)

I pray partially for myself, to get through the grieving thing whole, but mostly for him -- as he died by suicide, he didn't find the peace he needed here, so I pray to generally whoever's listening -- ancestors, gods, I'm not picky about this -- to help him find peace.

Ha, that sounds a lot more woo-woo than I generally sound when I'm talking about this sort of thing, but what I mean is that while they're not prayers to get out of Purgatory, they have a pretty similar purpose, all told.
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