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Author Topic: Are suicides allowed an Orthodox burial?  (Read 2089 times) Average Rating: 0
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Kaste
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« on: January 02, 2012, 05:49:44 PM »

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HandmaidenofGod
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 05:55:16 PM »

In speaking with my priest on this very matter (and other clergy in the Church) generally the Orthodox Church will bury a victim of suicide, as normally a person who commits suicide has done so after much mental anguish and suffering. (A mentally and physically healthy individual will not just decide to kill themselves for the heck of it.)

Ultimately it is up to the discretion of the Bishop, but the Orthodox Church tries to take a compassionate role in such matters. For the Church to deny the burial hurts the family of the victim, hurts the victim (because prayers are not said for them), and causes more damage than good. The Church tries to shy away from causing damage. It's not our MO. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 06:14:37 PM »

The bishop has to give approval for suicides to have a funeral.  Generally, if there's any reason to suspect the person was not in his or her right mind, they will receive a funeral.

Also, the Russian church recently approved a service for the consolation of the family of a suicide.  I'm not sure, but I think that service can be done whether the person was able to be buried in the church or not.
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 08:17:11 PM »

I heard about one being done last year in Florida. Hopefully, the Church won't have to do any more. Sad
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2012, 09:28:01 PM »

I've heard both yes and no. A subject near and dear to my heart.
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2012, 10:07:54 PM »

There doesn't seem to be  clear cut and unambiguous answer to this.  It seems that it always comes down to the Bishop's "yay"  or "nay" and I don't think he's using a checklist.
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2012, 10:17:03 PM »


It all depends on the mental state of the individual.

If they killed themselves out of malice, or to get even with someone, or with a "they'll miss me when I am gone" attitude, or simply because it's cool, or a pact between kids...it's one thing.

If they did it due to mental illness, or weren't in complete control of their faculties (drunk, drugs, etc)...it's another matter.

The point is that we are always to remain dependent on our Lord, and if we are, we would never get to such a desperate state.

Proverbs 3:5 - Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In the end it is up to the Bishop to gauge the mental state of the victim and declare it suicide or simply accidental death.


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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 10:49:54 AM »

previous discussion on this topic:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38284.0.html
i think we should do the service because only God can judge what is in someone's heart.
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 03:22:13 PM »

previous discussion on this topic:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38284.0.html
i think we should do the service because only God can judge what is in someone's heart.

At first, I would be inclined to agree, however the very fact that a suicide has died without a funeral is another reason for God to show His mercy, according to at least one modern elder I read. Also, a funeral is a type of closure, whereas no funeral is meant, I think, to disturb those who are still living so that they will be more inclined to pray for the suicide and to perform works of mercy in his or her name. It's a sign that the situation is not "all right."
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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 07:03:10 PM »

Burial service prayers depend on bishop.  Ok.  Does the same go for if the person can be buried in an Orthodox graveyard? 
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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2012, 09:13:58 PM »

Burial service prayers depend on bishop.  Ok.  Does the same go for if the person can be buried in an Orthodox graveyard? 
K

Ultimately, yes.

Ultimately all decisions concerning administration of sacraments and Church property go through the Bishop.

Now, if Mary is an Orthodox Christian who has been a devout and faithful believer her entire life, is in good standing with the Church, and passes away at the ripe old age of 100 in her sleep, then no question. She can have an Orthodox funeral and be buried in an Orthodox grave yard.

But what if Mary was married in the Orthodox Church but her husband was Lutheran? Well when her husband dies, that would have to get an "ok" with the Bishop.
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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2012, 09:23:55 PM »

I would hope that pastoral care would be more important that exclusivity*... I mean, this isn't exactly like guarding the communion chalice, though it is obviously still quite an important thing. When my unbaptized infant brother died, my lapsed Catholic Father sought burial in a Catholic cemetary, and was allowed to do so. That one act probably did more for making him more attentive to God and more responsive to Catholicism than a thousand sermons or arguments or billboards or tv shows could have.


*I am not intending this word to be a pejorative here, I understand the value of exclusivity in some aspects of Church life.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 09:24:57 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 10:12:48 PM »

I would hope that pastoral care would be more important that exclusivity*... I mean, this isn't exactly like guarding the communion chalice, though it is obviously still quite an important thing. When my unbaptized infant brother died, my lapsed Catholic Father sought burial in a Catholic cemetary, and was allowed to do so. That one act probably did more for making him more attentive to God and more responsive to Catholicism than a thousand sermons or arguments or billboards or tv shows could have.


*I am not intending this word to be a pejorative here, I understand the value of exclusivity in some aspects of Church life.

When I was 21, a lifelong friend of mine took her own life at the age of 19. She was Ukrainian Catholic and I was Ukrainian Orthodox. Our families had been friends for 3 generations.

Upon news of her passing, her family told her priest it was an "accidental" overdose of pills so that she could be buried in the Church.

The fact that her family had to lie had me very distraught, so I consulted my priest about how the Orthodox Church would have handled the matter.

He affirmed the need for pastoral care in such a case, and that, as others have said, unless someone was killing themselves out of spite, or to "stick it to God", the Church would normally perform the burial. Even in a case of spite, one has to wonder about the mental state of such an individual.

Suicide is not an option a clear minded, happy person considers. For someone to take their own life, they must be so distraught, or under such emotional agony that I think it would be completely contrary to Christ's teaching to minister to the sick for the Church to deny a burial.

The Church is not in the position of judging people's souls. That is God's job. Some like to say that suicide equals automatic damnation. I've never heard the Orthodox Church teach such a thing. (I could be wrong.)

We don't know how our prayers effect the souls of the departed, but I don't think praying for them can hurt. Furthermore, the healing and ministry it can provide to those left behind is priceless.

As I contemplate Jennifer's death, I am also reminded of a thread we had on this forum here about two years ago, "A Terrible Tragedy"

+Metropolitan ALEXIOS, being the good shepherd that he is, allowed Stephanie to have a Church funeral/burial.

I would hope that the same economia would be dispensed to any family in such a situation.

Note: I believe "On the recent tragedy in the Atlanta Metropolis" also offers some insight on the Church's feelings towards suicide.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 10:15:56 PM by HandmaidenofGod » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2012, 11:31:54 PM »

My experience is consistent with what "Handmaidenof God" and others have posted.  The church is officially opposed to suicide and will not conduct a funeral service in the church for someone who has lost all hope.  However, with the bishop's permission, "not being of a sound mental state," seems to be justification for the church's "economy" to be exercised, and a funeral is conducted.

I know also, even in the instance when a funeral is prohibited, the deceased is not interred without the benefit of prayers, as a Trisagion Service, (with the addition of the funeral's Epistle and Gospel Readings, I think), can be conducted at the funeral home and at the graveside.
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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 11:50:13 PM »

I think in the past the Church may have held such a view to try to dissuade people from committing suicide.

Looking at the issue with American 21st Century glasses, my mind associates suicide with mental illness, depression, etc.

However, in other cultures and in the past, suicide was considered an honorable option for those who lost to an opponent in battle, had experienced financial ruin, or had dishonored their family in some way.

Our American culture does not encourage this, however some parts of the world feel differently. So, reexamining the issue, I don't think the Church is trying to be insensitive, but perhaps dissuade those who might use suicide as an easy way out.
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2012, 11:38:41 AM »

i think u are right here about dissuading suicide out of 'spite'.
may God have mercy on your friend and her family.
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