Such confusion at funerals

Imagine knowing everyone’s thoughts at a funeral. as to what each person thinks is going to happen to the person who died. Imagine having a discussion after the funeral too, where everyone explains where he or she believes the deceased has gone.

Even the Christians present would probably get into an argument, because some of them believe the dead person has gone straight to heaven (or hell) to stay there forever; some believe he might be spending a stint in purgatory first; while others believe he’s gone to the grave and remains unconscious ’til the resurrection. Others yet think he’s in a conscious state in some sort of existence with Jesus, but only until the resurrection, at which point he receives a transformed human body to co-rule with Jesus in his human body on the earth.

And that’s just the confusion among Christians at a funeral.

Add to the mix a few Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Japanese nature worshippers, African ancestor worshippers and a collection of various Oprah Winfrey Gnostics who welcome death as an escape from this entire wretched physical existence, and we’re in for a heated discussion on what happens after we die. Pity the deceased person if any of that lot had a say in deciding his fate in the afterlife. The poor chap wouldn’t know which way he was going.

If the Muslims got their way with him, for instance, the deceased goes to the grave to await the final judgment, at which point he’s assigned to Paradise or Hell depending on the balance of his good and bad deeds in this life. If the Hindus got their way, the deceased would be coming back to the earth in a different body to pursue the next stage in his destiny. The Buddhists, meanwhile, would have him losing his identity all together in the great, nameless beyond, and the ancestor worshippers would have him playing a role in the lives of the living. Some, like the soldier who wrote a poem in case of his death in Northern Ireland, would have the deceased not dying at all, and instead he’s “the sunlight on ripened grain” or some other part of the creation like a butterfly or a seed blowing in the wind. Some might even believe the deceased is a ghost, wandering through the mists of time in a fog of his own, giving people nasty frights on dark nights when the wind’s howling.

Such is the confusion at funerals. But one thing is shared by all those present, on which they might all agree: that death is not the end of things. Life, in some form, goes on – we hope.

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