I thought it trite to end blogposts related to my Dad’s death on a spiritual note, hence this post that deals with how we should deal with the death of a dearly beloved as YAHWEH’s people. If you find my posts in recent times boring and kinda tending to the dark, just bear with me this one more time, though this surely will be light shining out of the obscurely dark and gloom. The truth is that I didn’t expect that my grieving will stretch this far, of which nothing but that related to death, the dead and dying will be the only things I’d find myself more inclined to write, blog or talk about. Gladly this should mark the end of it, except I become inspired to do something again in that aspect because I find I couldn’t help but so do.
Twas days before my late Dad’s burial that a friend wanting to know how preparations were going, asked if I had shorn my hair as required by custom, and I told her no. One other person had asked if my mother will wear white/black clothes for a year (or any other time period as stipulated) to mourn her husband, or have her hair shaved, and I responded in the negative again, explaining that though my culture demands it, our faith doesn’t allow it, and when such a clash occurs, we tend to align with our faith. If my father, as a Pastor didn’t welcome such when he was alive, we shouldn’t be seen going to the contrary after he is gone, at least in the immediate matters still relating to him.
Indeed, by the time we had concluded all burial and funeral proceedings, a senior member of my kindred approached me over a ritual that must be performed to protect us the bereaved, for which a ram will be required for sacrificial purposes. He reminded me of a man who ignored same advice but died just weeks after burying his father following a road traffic accident. He even pointed to a late Bishop we both knew, whose children performed the ritual despite the fact that their father was clergy. I wasn’t going to let off my guard, so I played him a familiar tune. It is a common saying where I come from that the reason Igbo funerals are elaborate is because the living are expected to speak “loudly” on behalf of their dead on earth, so that the dead can reciprocate on their behalf in the hereafter, so I asked my kindred what he thought would be the reaction of my father if he learnt that we had done a ritual which he considered to be against his faith after he left, especially when he didn’t do same for his late father. After I put forward this argument, this member of my kindred simply eased the ropes and let go, finding that he couldn’t fault my position, seeing as he personally supervised the slaughter of a cow, a ram, goats and several chickens during the preparations and after the burial and funeral, enough to know that buying yet another ram wasn’t the problem, rather what it was to be used for.
Now, it is not that I am averse to the culture and traditions of my homeland, however for Messianic Jews like me, we tend to steer clear of anything that connotes idolatry, or cultures that demean, dehumanize or traumatize humans physically and psychologically, even when they aren’t any form of idolatry, in relation not only to mourning or grieving but indeed every other aspect of life and living. We take our backing from Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 1 which admonishes us as children of YAHWEH to “….NOT CUT y(ourselves), nor make any BALDNESS between your eyes for the dead”, in very clear terms, for reasons stated in verse 2, as follows: “For thou art a holy people unto YAHWEH thy Elohim, and YAHWEH hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.”
Therefore we are not to mourn the dead by dehumanizing the living, nor are we to make a show of mourning besides that deep understanding of what death is and mourn as appropriate not because great harm or wrong has been done us, rather because of our loved one whom we shall miss for the time being. I find friends who have looked at my demeanour physically to assume that of all the members of my family, I appeared to mourn or grieve less outwardly, but actually the reverse is true and that is without demeaning how others grieve. Even though it’s now been three weeks since we put my Dad to earth, I still find myself grieving as I had since the day I heard of his death on the first of March.
I grieve, but not with tears as many would’ve expected, not because I consider it unmanly to so grieve, but because it isn’t everyone (even females) that can spontaneously snivel as the need arises, or conditions demand. It is also in keeping with the admonition by the Apostle Paul who couldn’t have said it any better (or simpler), when in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 13 to 18, affirmed thus – “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so, through Yahshua, YAHWEH will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of YAHWEH, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of Yahshua, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For Yahshua himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of YAHWEH. And the dead in Yahshua will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet HIM in the air; and so we shall always be with Yahshua. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
One of the things we considered in choosing a date for the burial was the feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Our intention was to have a date that will be such that Yahwists will be able to attend, and still make the feast without been defiled, and it indeed paid off, with the feast (of Unleavened Bread ending tomorrow) instilling in us that promise of resurrection, that as with Yahshua who is our Passover lamb, sacrificed for the sins of mankind, died and resurrected, therefore “…there is an order to this resurrection: Yahshua was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Yahshua will be raised when he comes back” (1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 23, New Living Translation).
It behooves on us all therefore to work towards bettering the good works of our faithfully departed, if we truly wish to be reunited with them on the last day. It would be a shame if they rise on the last day, and we fail to likewise do, or if we are still alive, find that we couldn’t shed our corruptible body for the incorruptible (1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 53), which is prerequisite to joining with the risen faithfuls to be partakers of the Kingdom of YAHWEH on earth. Such actually has been how I have being grieving, by a sort of introspection and while recognizing my mortality, deciding to live like an immortal, because the only time we truly have is NOW.
– THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000