So there was a death in my extended family a couple days ago. My wife knew him well, but I had only met the guy once. He was quite a different type of personality than I usually spend my time with, so it was only brief small-talk. Nothing against the guy, there are just people who you click with and those who you don’t.
So he died over the weekend, which obviously causes a lot of turmoil in a family. Not being terribly connected to the death, I become the comforter as it’s easy for me to be calm and mellow for people. The problem I’m facing is this: People want comforting words about the death.
That may sound like it isn’t much of a problem. For parts of it I’m even quite good at it. I’ve experienced the death of a parent at a young age, so I have gentle and reassuring words in that regard. I’ve spent enough time in therapy to know to encourage people to go with their emotions and find their own ways to grieve. The problem comes down to when people start asking about the more religious/spiritual aspects and what they should do or what is happening.
In that regard, most of the things I have to say wouldn’t be comforting to a Christian or most other main-stream religious people. The soul, death, the afterlife, and all of those topics are things that I hold very different beliefs about, and I refuse to just tell people what they want to hear. So the only tactic I’ve had is to either just shut my mouth and let them spew, or to turn it into a question. When asked, “Even though he was drunk/high/sinner/whatever, do you think he’ll still go to heaven?” I’ve been asking things like, “Well, what do you believe will happen?” and letting them roll on their own beliefs.
I think people are starting to see through it though, and the last thing I want to do is piss on someone’s beliefs in a time of suffering. I seriously doubt it would go well. The words that would I would want to hear are definitely not things that would help them at this point. It’s really a sticky spot to be in because I like to help people when I can, but there are boundaries I set for the sake of others. I think my unwillingness to talk about some of it is being misconstrued as ‘he just thinks he’s going to hell’ or some other judgement.
If someone wanted my honest answer, the best I could tell them is that I could try and find out. Everyone’s death is unique, and how they interact with the afterlife can be different depending on a lot of things like their religious convictions, willingness to accept their own death, and even their own preconceptions as to what will be waiting for them (or not). I have some tools (including my wife) that are available to get an idea, but that’s about it. If they’re looking to know if someone is playing Scrabble with a specific deity, it’s a question that I feel that I should dodge out of respect.
On a personal note, illumination has been the key lately. The ‘fake it ’till you make it’ mentality has been ruling my life. I never realized how truly powerful the concept of illumination could be until I started applying it to non-esoteric areas of my life.
A little bit more reality change and I won’t even recognize myself.