The death of a loved one, regardless of religion is one of the most difficult pills to swallow in life. Unfortunately it’s something that everybody experiences at some point. Death is an inevitable part of living, and although it’s something that’s not discussed comfortably at all times, it’s something that everybody is acutely aware of. A lot of people find comfort in their faith in times of mourning, and use it to help them to understand the devastating situation they’ve found themselves in. Below, we’re going to look at the different ways in which the religion of Judaism approaches the death and bereavement of a loved one, and how it’s possible to move forwards following that.
Although the Jewish approach to life is that it’s sacred, and valued above all else, Judaism attempts not to see the death of a person as a tragedy, but rather a natural process. Although this of course doesn’t diminish the unimaginable grief that is felt by the family and close friends of the departed, this philosophical approach to death found in Judaism is a more uplifting sentiment than in most other religions. Jewish people believe very strongly in a wonderful afterlife, in which the person who has passed on will be rewarded for the way they lived their time here on earth. Although the family and friends do have to go through the usual legal proceedings that follow a death, such as the sorting of belongings and the quick sale of the deceased member’s house with companies such as House Buy Fast, they find comfort in their ultimately philosophical approach to the death of a loved one.
Other Attitudes Towards Life and Death
Despite the religion itself being full of laws and teachings, in Judaism it is appropriate to break as many as up to 613 commandments, permitted that it’s necessary in order to save a life. However, because of the sacred belief of life being more important than anything else, it is against religion to assist in the death of another person in anyway. Suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia are strictly forbidden in the laws of Judaism. It is however viable to artificially prolong a person’s life – because life is the most valuable thing of all.
The mourning practices found in Judaism, although fairly extensive, are not a fear or in the distaste of death. The mourning rituals are practiced for only two purposes. These are:
- Showing respect for the dead.
- Showing comfort to the living.
These customs are in line with a lot of other religions. For example, even in humanist services, the dead are celebrated with respect, and the living comforted accordingly.
Mourning practices are traditional in the Judaic faith. Unlike many others, some of these actually encourage the full expression of grief, in order for the mourner to feel their emotions fully and let them out before returning to their ordinary lives.
It’s customary that when a close relative or parent dies, the close relatives of that said person must tear a piece of their clothing. If the deceased is a parent, then it’s traditional for the tearing to take place on the left side of the chest where the heart would be, and for other relatives it would be on the right side.
The time leading up to the burial is known as the aninut period. During this period, the mourners are solely responsible for caring for the deceased and preparing for the burial. In the aninut period, the family should be left alone in order to fully console their grief in privacy. Visitors and callers are not welcome in this time frame. However the aninut period itself only lasts for as long as up to two days. Jewish burials are prompt.
It is traditional that everyone in the Jewish faith who is deceased should have a tombstone, in order for them to be remembered by the world and the people who loved them. In some Jewish faiths where there is a mourning period for as long as twelve months, the tombstone must either be veiled or not yet put up in its place.
It’s a fairly well-known custom in certain Jewish communities that the mourners place stones on the grave place of the departed instead of flowers, or letters. The reason behind this is because stones, unlike flowers, are permanent and will not be blown away by the wind. It’s thought as leaving something for the person, so that they knew you were there.