How Religion Can Help us Deal with Death
Posted by AK Lander | On February 17, 2017 09:12
Religion can help us in many ways, no more so than when confronted with death. We could all use a hand during these moments. Here is how region can help.
Death is a tough time for us all, for both those that are departing and those that are saying goodbye to the ones they love. We all deal with grief in a myriad of ways, but religion and the belief in something more can help those in their hour of need to find comfort, hope and optimism about the future. We could all do with a helping hand during these times, so let us look at the various ways religion can be that much needed presence during these most testing of moments.
It is inevitable after all; death affects us all, and as much as it pains us to think about, at some time or another we will have to find a way to cope with the passing of a loved one. Tackling this alone, as is many a person’s want, can make this already troubling time even more painful. Help is there however, for those that are willing to open there hearts and minds. Seeking comfort and guidance in the form of religion can be hugely beneficial; not just in these most dire of moments, but going forward into the rest of your life’s journey.
The belief in something other than one’s self is a hugely comforting notion. The idea that the world doesn’t start and end with you, that man doesn’t hold all of life’s secrets, can hold the key most needed when a family member is beginning their journey to the other side. If one was to believe that man’s domain is all that there is, that when one dies, there is simply nothing; that can be an incredibly morose way to live and only add to the misery of losing someone precious.
However -- as the world’s many religions teach us – if there is a place beyond this realm, a place once our work on this earth has been completed, that our souls will arrive at -- in the joyous presence of God -- well, that puts an entirely different spin on things.
The Church of England, the country’s Anglican Christian state church, helps people all over the country find the strength to face the end and comfort them in their time of need. The Church’s Revd Canon Dr Sandra Miller said the following to us about their important work.
“Just over 33 million people in England identify as Christian and every week the Church of England helps 3000 families to mark the death of someone they knew and loved through a church-led funeral service. Each service is special and personal, reflecting God’s love for unique individuals and through words, music, readings and prayers also reflects the particular interests and needs of that family”.
“After the service, the church will be there for that family whenever, and wherever they need us. Whether that is a quiet space to light a candle, or place to stop and think about the big feelings and questions that death brings, people discover that the Christian faith helps to comfort and encourage at a difficult time. The church is often the place that for them holds their story and their history across generations past and present, offering a sense of timelessness and significance that will go far beyond the words that are said”.
This is an important message, and the benefits available cannot be overstressed. Of course, one should not choose to believe purely on the basis that they are afraid of death; religion offers so much more than this comfort. However, the overwhelming faith that your loved one will soon be closer to God, can lead you to not despair at their passing, to of course miss their presence, but be comforted in the fact that their journey is not yet over, that the next stage of their life is about to begin.
It’s a beautiful idea, and faith – and the practice of religion – can also help us in other areas, such as accepting our own mortality. We all like to think we are infallible, that we are somehow the exception to the rule, that we can escape death. However this isn’t our destiny and the very fact that we are mortal gives our lives the purpose it needs and teaches us to live life in the moment, to cherish all that it holds. Participating in the world with this outlook can provide some obvious benefits but this faith in God can also afford us the courage to face death itself.
Knowing that you have lived life honest and true, knowing that your faith and virtue will someday see you reunited with your loved ones and able to share domain with the Almighty, suddenly takes that overwhelming fear away. That crippling notion that death is the full stop on life is now gone. That can be an awfully liberating feeling and such a concept can only be experienced by putting overwhelming faith in something other than yourself.
Man is a very impressive creature, but man is imperfect and man cannot solve all of life’s problems. Religion teaches this message to those that are open to it. And it’s this very message that can provide the courage, tools and indeed the faith we need to not run in fear from our own mortality. We are not the masters of death. We try our hardest, we live good lives, we mourn over gravestones, and help those that we can, but at some point the die is cast, at some point it’s our turn to move on. When one chapter closes, another begins.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” – Thessalonians 4: 13- 14