Death, both to the living and to the dying, means many different things. To some extent the meaning is different from person to person but many times our thoughts are based on our religion. Each religion around the world has their own view on death, the process of dying, and what is done after death. These perspectives help those who believe make death more acceptable. Many credit their faith with helping them deal with a mortality issue and others look to their faith in order to help them understand the passing of those they love. Grief is a powerful emotion and how we deal with it may have much to do with our faith.
The Christian Perspective
The Christian grief process is generally guided by scripture from the bible because there are statements such as, “There is a time to be born, and a time to die.” This gives believers the knowledge that we all have our time. For Christians, death is a part of life and many Christians believe that it is their duty to take care of the dying as they wait for Jesus to return. Christians have a wide variety of beliefs after death, but most believe that death is just another part of the journey as we all experience eternal life so long as one believes in Jesus Christ.
The Islamic Perspective
In the Islamic faith grief is something that involves the person dying as well as those around him or her. When someone is dying in this faith it is the job of the friends and family to gather around the ill person and help them remember their commitment to God. Muslims believe that death is the will of Allah. After death the body is washed and wrapped in a shroud. There are specific prayers that are to be said and the body is to be laid on the right side facing the direction of Makkah. In the Islamic faith the family members are to pay off any debts of the deceased soon after death as they anticipate the person being judged after death and want the process to be as favorable as possible. Bereavement in this faith is often accompanied by constant prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage.
The Hindu Perspective
Many people have commented over the ages that grief management seems a lot easier for the people of this faith. While this may or may not be true, it could be owed to the fact that those that practice this religion believe in the rebirth as well as the reincarnation of souls. Practitioners believe that death is simply part of the experience, and that after a time the soul will adjust and return to physical form again. There are two paths for the soul to take after death; the path of the sun and the path of the moon. Those that take the path of the sun will never return again but those that take the path of the moon will return. Many different rituals have been practiced for thousands of years and may help with the grief process.
The Buddhist Perspective
The Buddhist perspective of death is quite interesting and is said to make grief not so troublesome for those that have suffered a loss. The practitioners of this faith do not look at death as a sad event, rather the breaking apart from the material world and material that we are composed of. A Buddhist believes that the soul awakens at death. Before the death friends and family like to be with the person to help them achieve the right state of mind as they go into death. One needs to think of death as their rebirth into another, and perhaps greater, realm than the human world can offer.
The Jewish Perspective
Not unlike Christians, those that are Jewish tend to view death as a natural experience. Many Jewish people believe that death gives life more meaning and that because we know we all must die sometime, we should spend each day living the more pure and ethical life possible. Unlike a lot of faiths, Judaism is a bit different in that they don’t believe that all believers will simply go to Heaven or Hell based on their belief or lack thereof. Instead, each individual will be judged on their ethical behavior during life. For this reason, Jewish people view death as natural but their final judgment by God.
Religious Perspective and Grief Management
As you can see, each religion has their own take on death and this perspective is often what gives people the ability to get through the loss of their loved ones and still have a zest for life. While religion may help to comfort those that are left behind after death, it does not mean that the loss of a loved one will be easy. Grief, no matter what faith you believe in, is a very real and necessary part of the death experience for those who are still living. Strive to comfort yourself with faith based knowledge, but also allow yourself to get depression and grief counseling if you feel you need it, or simply surround yourself with supportive friends and family.