Comfort for those who Mourn!

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29 Jun 2007 19:10 #3608 by Twsoundsoff
Comfort for those who Mourn! was created by Twsoundsoff
Christian comfort

for the sorrowing

By: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

Translated by Nikolai and Natalie Semianko /Fr. Herman Ciuba

When a person near and dear to us departs from us, how can we not sorrow? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself sorrowed and even shed tears when His friend Lazarus died. Yet a natural sorrow at someone's death should not cast a Christian into despondency or cause him to murmur against God. Death is not the destruction of a person, but only the temporary separation of the soul from the body. Since it is a temporary condition, the New Testament Holy Scriptures and the early Christian writings refer to death as \"sleep\" (Acts 13:36) or \"dormition (falling asleep),\" as in the name of the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Death is called sleep in relation to the body; the soul of the dead person continues its conscious life. Its mental and other spiritual faculties do not weaken after death; on the contrary, they receive greater lightness and mobility, not being constricted by the body.

In order not to sorrow excessively over the loss of a loved one, we should consider that physical death also has a positive aspect. It brings man relief from his daily labors and from all the sorrows, illnesses and fears which fill our earthly existence. It is a passage to a better world, where eternal light shines, where the truth of God reigns, where there is no grief, and where the souls of the faithful find everlasting joy and peace.

The main source of comfort for a Christian should be that all of us will rise from the dead, meet those dear to us and live eternally. The Son of God came to earth to restore to the human race the immortal life which it had lost because of sin. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of our resurrection. We celebrate the feast of Pascha (Easter) with such joy because \"we celebrate the annihilation of death, the destruction of Hell, the beginning of another life, which is eternal\" (from the Paschal Canon).

The Apostle Paul comforts Christians who have lost their loved ones in these words: \"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him\" (1 Thes. 4:13-14). The Apostle further explains that we who remain among the living will not receive our reward before those who have died, because the fullness of the reward will come to all the righteous at the same time: \"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [i.e., go before] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord\" (1 Thess. 4:15-18).

Elsewhere, the Apostle sets forth the Christian view of life and death in these words: \"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord\" (2 Cor. 5:1-8).

These and similar thoughts will be our comfort when we lose people dear to us. Their transfer to another world reminds us that our own end is approaching. Therefore, in praying for them let us pray for ourselves as well, that we may be counted worthy of a Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless and peaceful, and that we may receive a favorable verdict at the dread judgment seat of Christ.

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29 Jun 2007 19:20 #3609 by Twsoundsoff
Replied by Twsoundsoff on topic Comfort for those who Mourn!
Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth

...Ven. Thich Nguyen Tang...

Death and the impermanence of life

In the teaching of the Buddha, all of us will pass away eventually as a part in the natural process of birth, old-age and death and that we should always keep in mind the impermanence of life. The life that we all cherish and wish to hold on.

To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.

This would lead to the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell. Realms, according to the severity of ones karmic actions, Buddhists believe however, none of these places are permanent and one does not remain in any place indefinitely. So we can say that in Buddhism, life does not end, merely goes on in other forms that are the result of accumulated karma. Buddhism is a belief that emphasizes the impermanence of lives, including all those beyond the present life. With this in mind we should not fear death as it will lead to rebirth.

The fear of death stemmed from the fear of cease to be existent and losing ones identity and foothold in the world. We see our death coming long before its arrival, we notice impermanence in the changes we see around us and to us in the arrival of aging and the suffering due to losing our youth. Once we were strong and beautiful and as we age, as we approach our final moments of life we realize how fleeting such a comfortable place actually was.


It is natural to grieve the loss of family members and others we knew, as we adjust to living without their presence and missing them as part of our lives. The death of a loved one, or even someone we were not close to, is terribly painful event, as time goes on and the people we know pass away along the journey of life, we are reminded of our own inevitable ends in waiting and everything is a blip of transience and impermanent.

At a certain moment, the world seems suddenly so empty and the sense of desperation appears to be eternity. The greater the element of grief and personal loss one tends to feel sorry for oneself.

Some of us may have heard the story of the women who came to the Buddha in great anguish, carrying her dead child pleading him to bring the child back to life. The Buddha said Bring to me a mustard seed from any household where no-one had ever died and I will fulfill your wish. The woman's attempt to search for such seed from houses were in vain and of course she could not find any household in which no-one had ever died and suddenly she realized the universality of death.

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29 Jun 2007 19:25 #3610 by Twsoundsoff
Replied by Twsoundsoff on topic Comfort for those who Mourn!
Hinduism and Death: The Hindu view on Death

Hinduism believes in the rebirth and reincarnation of souls. Death is therefore not a great calamity, not an end of all, but a natural process in the existence of soul as a separate entity, by which it reassembles its resources, adjusts its course and returns again to the earth to continue its journey. In Hinduism death is a temporary cessation of physical activity, a necessary means of recycling the resources and energy and an opportunity for the jiva (that part which incarnates) to review its programs and policies. When a person dies, his soul along with some residual consciousness leaves the body through an opening in the head and goes to another world and returns again after spending some time there. What happens after the soul leaves the body and before it reincarnates again is a great mystery about which we can form an idea after studying the scriptures.

The Bhagavad gita describes two paths along which souls travel after death. One is the path of the sun, also known as the bright path and the other is the path of the moon, also known as the the dark path. When a soul travels along the path of the sun, it never return again, while those which travel along the path of the moon return again. (8.24). How is the path of the sun attained? Lord Krishna provides the clue in the following verses:

\"Controlling all the openings of the body, with the mind established in the heart, fixing the prana in the self at the top of the head establishing oneself in the Yoga, uttering the monosyllable AUM, which is Brahman, who leaves the body remembering Me, he achieves the highest goal. (8.12-13)

What happens to a soul after the death of a mortal being on earth depends upon many factors, some of which are listed below:

1. His previous deeds. If a person has committed many bad deeds in his life, he will go to the lower worlds and suffer from the consequences of his evil actions. On the contrary if he performed good deeds, he will go to the higher sun filled worlds and enjoy the life there.

2. His state of mind at the time of death, that is what thoughts and what desires were predominant in his consciousness at the time of his death, decides in which direction the jiva will travel and in what form it will appear again. For example if a person is thinking of his family and children at the time of his death, very likely he will go the world of ancestors and will be born again in that family. If a person is thinking of money matters at the time of his death, very likely he will travel to the world of Vishnu and will be born as a merchant or a trader in his next birth. If a person is thinking of evil and negative thoughts he will go to the lower worlds and suffer in the hands of evil. His suffering may either reform him or push him deeper into evil depending upon his previous samskaras( tendencies). If he is thinking of God at the time of his death, he will go to the highest world.

3. The time his death. The time and circumstances related to death are also important. For example it is believed that if a person dies on a battle field he will attain the heaven of the warriors. If a person dies on a festival day or an auspicious day, while performing some puja or bhajan in the house, he will go to heaven irrespective of his previous deeds.

4. The activities of his children, that is whether they performed the funeral rites in the prescribed manner and satisfied the scriptural injunctions. There is a belief that if funeral rites are not performed according to the procedure, it will delay the journey of the souls to their respective worlds.

Belief in many heavens and hells: Hinduism believes in the existence of not one hell and one heaven but in the existence of many sun filled worlds and many dark and demonic worlds. Apart from these, each of the Trinity of gods has his own world, which is attained by their followers after their death. Vaikunth is the world of Vishnu, Kailash is the world of Siva and Brahmalok is the world of Brahman. Indralok is the standard heaven to which those who please the gods through their activities upon the earth go. The standard hell is Yamalok, which is also ruled by a god called Lord Yama, who is also the ruler of the southern quarter. He is assisted by an attendant who is know as Chitragupt, who is some kind of a chronicler, who keeps an account of the deeds of all human beings on earth and reads them out as the jivas stand infront of Yama in his court and await his verdict.

The purpose of heavens and hell: In the ultimate sense, the purpose of these worlds is neither to punish or reward the souls, but to remind them of the true purpose of their existence. In finally analysis, the difference between heaven and hell is immaterial because both are a part of the great illusion that characterizes the whole creation. The difference is very much like the difference between a good dream and a bad dream. In the end it does not matter whether a soul has gone to the heaven or to some hell, because in both cases it learns important lessons and goes back to earth to continue its play.

A soul which goes to heaven, will enjoy the pleasure of heaven and in the end realizes that seeking heavenly pleasures is not the ultimate goal since however intense these pleasures may be, they do not last long. A soul which falls into the darker world gets a taste of the horror of the evil it tried to project on earth, with a multiplier effect and with an intensity and severity that would make it realize the horrors of evil. Thus in either case, the purpose of heavens and hells is to impart an attitude of wisdom and detachment to the souls. However how far these lessons will help the souls to mould their future lives, we do not know because once they return to the earth consciousness, because of the power of may, they forget much of what they have learned.

During the Afterlife A soul can exist in many planes: It is not necessary that after death a jiva should go to only one world. Depending upon its activities earth, it may stay in many worlds, one after another before returning to the earth. It may stay in some hellish worlds before moving to the heavenly worlds or vice versa. Whatever may be the pattern, at the end of it, the soul should have learned some important lessons for its further journey on earth.

The Purpose of Cremation: After death, Hindus are not buried, but cremated. The idea is that the human personality is made up of five elements of which four belong to the body and come from this world, namely fire, earth, water and air while the fifth the ether (fine matter) belongs to the domain of the subtle body and comes from the higher worlds. By cremating the body, the elements are rightfully returned to their respective spheres, while the subtle body along with soul returns to the worlds beyond for the continuation of its afterlife.

A lot of rituals are associated with the cremation ceremony. When a person dies, the body is given a final bath, carried on a wooden stretcher by his kith and kin with the chanting of the name of Rama and cremated on the community cremation grounds generally by the eldest son. This is followed by some rituals in which the sons make offering of food to the departed soul under the supervision of a priest. Generally a function is organized on the fifteen day and guests are invited for a meal. Generally Hindus who have lost an important relation in their families do not celebrate functions and festivals for a specific period of time as a mark of respect. While cremation is the standard procedure, Hindus consider it very auspicious if a dead body is immersed in the Ganges or cremated on its banks since the river is considered very sacred.

The Best way to reach God: According to Hindu scriptures the best way to attain salvation is to think of God all the time through dhyana (contemplation), remembrance and repetition of god's name. If a person trains his mind to remember God all the time, very likely at the time of his death he will be able to concentrate his thoughts on God and attain Him. Through mastery of their senses and minds, many saints and seers gain complete control on the process of death and develop an intuitive awareness of when and in what manner they would depart from this world. When the time comes, leaving necessary instructions to their disciples, they leave their bodies, immersed in a state of samadhi or deep trance. In the Bhagavad gita Srikrishna declares that at the time death he who concentrates his prana between the two eye brows with the strength of his yoga and is engaged in devotion with an unwavering mind he attains the Divine and transcendental Brahman (8.10)

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29 Jun 2007 19:31 #3611 by Twsoundsoff
Replied by Twsoundsoff on topic Comfort for those who Mourn!
What happens to Pagans after death?
There are basically four major paths within modern Paganism. These are:

Asatru, and
Eclectic Paganism.
Within each there are many denominations, much the same as in Protestantism. Virtually all of the various Pagan spiritual traditions have some place of rest, comfort and reward to which we expect we will go, even if only for a brief time before reincarnation, growing younger and younger until, eventually, we are again young enough to reborn. We accept death as a necessary step in the cycles of life: Birth, death, and rebirth. Most Pagan belief systems include the concept that it is our lives that are our most important purpose here, and that we can make this life into a reward or a punishment by how we live and how we relate to those around us. We believe that our own sense of personal responsibility and morality is what controls our punishment or reward in this lifetime.

For Wiccans and Pagans, this place is known as the \"Summerland\". It is a place of eternal rest and comfort, or if we have not learned enough in this lifetime and are to be reincarnated, a restful and pleasant stop-over between lives.

To the Northern European or Nordic traditions, for warriors it is known as Valhalla; for others, it is called Noatun, where the sun meets the water, Asgaard, and several others. There are at least 12 abodes for the dead, allowing each some choice in where they will meet and abide in eternal feasting with Odin. Oath-breakers and others who dishonored their community or themselves were sent to Nastrond, more to keep them away from the good folks in the other places than as punishment.

To the Druids, it is known as the Western Islands, Avalon, or the Isle of Apples.

None of the Pagan traditions contain a place of damnation and suffering such as the Judeo-Christian Hell. We don't believe that this life is some kind of a dress rehearsal for something that comes only after death. Most believe that upon death, each of us must honestly and justly evaluate and judge ourselves before rest in the Summerland or our reincarnation can be possible.

How is bereavement care a part of your community?
The belief that death is simply a change to another plane of existence for Pagans does not often make the passage of a loved one any less emotional or difficult, even though we generally do not fear our own death as much as most westerners do today. Grief comes more often from a sense of personal loss rather than a fear for the fate of the deceased, as we have no place of eternal punishment to be afraid of.

In the Pagan community, the same support during the grieving process is provided for the survivors, although often through novel means, such as a guided meditation for the grief stricken. With the subject or subjects in a relaxed position with eyes closed, preferably sitting comfortably and not reclining, the leader of the meditation will guide them through a mind-picture-story in the mind, very often a journey through familiar and pleasing surroundings, to meet with the departed loved one. They are presented with the opportunity to converse in their minds with the deceased, to say things not said in life, to make their peace if necessary, to see that the departed is happy and well, and to say their good-byes to them. The meditation leader will then talk them back along the path previously taken, returning them to their present consciousness. This process, this meditative mind-journey if you will, is very effective and amazingly cathartic in releasing unreconciled grief. Some find the grieving process shortened by lovingly preparing the body by washing it themselves prior to removal for interment or cremation. Some other methods include the building of a shrine or an altar to the deceased in one's home; gathering for a community memorial to mark and honor the life of the deceased rather than focusing on their death; and Chanting for the Dead, similar to the Tibetan Buddhist rites or the Jewish custom of Saying Kaddish.

How do you support the dying person?
When it is possible, often someone (or several people, taking turns) will sit a vigil with the dying person during the days leading up to their death. There are several meditations for this circumstance, including the Salt Water Meditation, and a Grounding Meditation to help center the mind. One of the greatest gifts we can offer a loved one is to simply be present through their dying, grounded, caring, and witnessing and experiencing with them without interfering with the process. We know that even an unconscious person can often still hear, and we try not to create an unsettling atmosphere for them by callously talking as though they were already gone. Once dead, the body must not be left alone, if possible, until cremation or interment. Given the modern operations of hospitals and nursing homes, this may prove difficult, but we must try.

How do you support their family?
Just as with the dead, the surviving should not be left alone but offered companionship - even just the silent presence of a friend sleeping in the next room is comforting. Many Pagans believe that the bereaved family needs nine days without the burdens of daily work routines, though few are able to afford this. Three days for the dead, three days for the living, and another three days for gentle transition back to ordinary life. Offering practical help, such as making phone calls, arranging transportation, dealing with the authorities and paperwork are all concrete acts of love. Newly bereaved need nurturing, and food and companionship are needed in spite of feelings of wanting to be alone or not being hungry. Companionship should never be burdensome - it isn't necessary to entertain or comfort or make wise remarks - we just need to be there.

What are the rituals with the body after death?
The preparation and dressing of the body were already touched on. The body should generally not be embalmed or preserved in any way, and so cremation or burial should take place in three days or less, sooner in hot climates. Memorial services should be held for those unable to make the funeral. To allow it to return to the natural cycles of the earth, the physical body should be wrapped in a simple cloth shroud and placed directly in the earth if the law allows, or in a simple, softwood box without any concrete or metal burial vault. Many cemeteries insist on a vault to minimize their workload in refilling depressions caused by settling graves, so this should be discussed in advance. The return of the physical body to the earth in a natural, unrestricted process is a central and important tenet of Paganism. In cremation, much of the physical body is released back into the biosphere, and remaining ashes should also be allowed to return to the earth.

(Provided by our friends at the The Aquarian Tabernacle Church)

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