We all experience and deal with death in different ways. For people who are religious or spiritual, cultural traditions and restrictions may have a lot to do with the selection in form of final disposition, ceremony, or final resting place. We also use religion as a source of information for grief, unresolved problems, or communicating with the deceased after they have passed on. In this guide, we examine spirituality and death in order to gain more insight into how and why religion affects the way we process death, as well as how we pick up the pieces. Keep reading to learn more.
Spirituality and Death in Grief or Healing
Death is one of the only events we can predict with absolute certainty, and yet it is one of the only events which we refuse to think. Loss is an unfortunate truth we all face at different phases of our lives. In the wake of losing a loved one, denial is not at all uncommon. As a defense mechanism, denial allows us to pace our feelings and absorb only as much as we can handle. Once we begin to open up to friends and loved ones, denial seeps away and gives way to other forms of grief. We may then feel anger or the desire to bargain for second chances. Some of us fall into a form of depression, which can vary from withdrawal to a private form of despair that prepares us for separation.
Easing grief through religion and spirituality can be a source of great solace. In New Orleans, for example, funeral processions lead the deceased and their loved ones from the funeral home to the graveyard. As they walk through the streets to the cemetery, musicians perform dirges and somber melodies. Once the deceased is buried, music becomes lively in celebration. Jazz funerals such as these stem from Protestant and Catholic traditions, as well as African spiritual practices. They transform morbid occasions into commemorative events full of memories.
Making Peace with a Loved One’s Death
Prayer can hearten or sustain you during the difficult time of losing a loved one. Many find that organized religions draw people together, allowing them to share their grief in a community setting. Religious services and ceremonies can also serve as a wonderful source of comforting words or small acts of assistance that ease distress after death. Others find a solace in nature by gardening, planting trees, or talking to their loved in a place of significance.
Spirituality and Death in Final Disposition
There are many misconceptions about cremation where religion and spirituality are concerned. Ancient civilizations practiced four primary methods of disposal. Greek and Romans believed in only the immortality of the soul and saw no reason to pay special attention to the bodies of their deceased. Similarly, Hindus believed in reincarnation and would burn the dead in order to rid any sense of attachment from soul to body. Egyptians carried out mummification to preserve corpses indefinitely. Members of the Christian faith began burying their dead for several reasons: reverence of man made in God’s image, centrality of incarnation, Holy Spirit indwelling, and Jesus’ resurrection.
Christians are usually concerned whether cremation is biblical, but there is no specific rule or guideline pertaining to cremation in the Bible. There are several denominations of Judaism that prohibit cremation. According to Jewish law, or “Halakha,” the dead must be buried on land. However, the choice to be cremated is seemingly less taboo today than it has been in the past. Before making your final decision, we recommend that you consult your spiritual leader to determine whether cremation aligns with your own beliefs and wishes.
Spirituality has much to do with death. Regardless of whether you consider yourself religious, there can be much to find and enjoy by examining death through a spiritual lens. Life is an incredible adventure, and the journey of the soul can’t be measured by how we die or how our loved ones react to death. If you have any questions or concerns about spirituality and death, please contact Legacy Headstones today for additional information or support.