Death And Beyond


Lonely Questions
What is Life?
What is death?
Death and God

Souls and spirits
in the Old Testament

If there is a God why does He allow suffering?
Souls and spirits in the New Testament
Hell fire examined
Can the dead speak to us?
Resurrection hope
Commonly asked questions
‘Be of good comfort’
Understanding and coping with bereavement

One person told me that, if she had not made some changes while she was still in a state of numbness, she would never have had the motivation to do it later. For older people needing care or those with a severe disability, immediate care arrangements have to be made and this is understandable if the main carer is the person who has passed away.

In Victorian days, grieving was something that was more formal. The widow wore total black, and perhaps a veil to hide the tear-stains; her clothes were called widow's 'weeds' from an old

Anglo-Saxon word for clothes This showed everyone that she was mourning for her husband. She was not expected to move on to wearing silver grey or lavender clothes for quite a few months. Often she would stay in a darkened room for an extended time. We still retain traces of this custom by pulling the curtains in a house where there has been a death or pulling our curtains in respect for others at a time when the hearse will pass by.

In the gloom, the widow would be waited on and looked after, but would also receive many visitors who came to hear how it all happened. Time and again her story would be repeated. This was the best thing that could happen, because the loss was being talked about and not suppressed. When it had been talked about to everyone, or when the widowed lady felt she did not need to talk about it any more, it was time to take a deep breath and move on. Recognising death in this more formal way, with commonly accepted rituals, was a way of allowing people to grieve fully and pass through the various stages more naturally.

Today we try to ignore the facts of death. Many people wear brighter clothes to funerals, or think the service has been a good occasion if there has been music and celebration and a kindly jest, saying this is how the dead person would have wanted it. For the one left behind, however, this is to deny the pain and the deep sense of loss, and bewilderment can result instead of comfort. Death is often treated like a headache - take a pill and it will all go away. Have a holiday and you will feel better.

Grieving is not an illness. It is not a disease. This cannot be stressed too strongly. It is not an illness to feel sad when you have lost someone. It is quite natural to be sad and bereft and one has to live through the experience. Because bereavement is not openly talked about, we often have no idea what to expect, but it is a process that has to be experienced and adjusted to. There are no short cuts to end the pain, and, if you do attempt to suppress it or ignore it, the pain will reappear years later, or stress illnesses may occur. Bereavement is not an isolated event, with life quickly returning to normal. It has to be lived through.

I knew someone once, who was grieving deeply for someone they had lost, but who had to try to carry on with employment and the daily chores. When the next wave of tears began to come, (and you can tell the signs - the need to sigh and take shaky, deep breaths, with a lumpy deep discomfort around your midriff), she went quickly to the bathroom,

locked the door, and knelt down in privacy by the bath, or if at work, made for the quietness of the disabled toilet, and let the tears fall, claiming some of the promises written out in this booklet. Another person had a familiar place where her sorrow was poured out. She used to bury her head in the cushions at the corner of the settee and pull an old rug over her head and cry until the sobs gradually subsided. Another pressed his head into the fur of the old dog until it was wet with sorrow, but the dog never stopped loving him and always licked his hand in constant affection. That constancy helped.

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