Author Topic: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?  (Read 402 times)

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Offline Deborah

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Hi there,

What would Orthodox Christians typically say to those whose close (Orthodox Christian) family member has reposed, to express their condolences and comfort those left behind?  Someone in my parish has just lost a close relative.  All I can think of is something along the lines of, "Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of __________", but it feels woefully lacking, doesn't really acknowledge the fact that the person still lives on and that we are still connected with them :-\  Thanks!
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Offline LBK

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2013, 07:44:25 PM »
Hi there,

What would Orthodox Christians typically say to those whose close (Orthodox Christian) family member has reposed, to express their condolences and comfort those left behind?  Someone in my parish has just lost a close relative.  All I can think of is something along the lines of, "Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of __________", but it feels woefully lacking, doesn't really acknowledge the fact that the person still lives on and that we are still connected with them :-\  Thanks!

Greek custom is to say to the bereaved: Zoi se sas (literally "Life to you"), or Aionia i mnimi (eternal be his/her memory). Russians and most other Slavs say either Vechnaya pamyat' (eternal be his/her memory), or Tsarskiye nebesnoye ("heavenly kingdom", an expression of hope that the deceased will enter it).
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

Offline IoanC

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 09:02:16 PM »
I say the "generic" -- Memory eternal! May God rest his/her soul in peace! Of course, if you really want to bring the hope of salvation to people, you need to talk with them a bit more and this requires a bit of skill and knowing when to speak about these things and when to keep quiet (if people don't really want your hope). Personally, I prefer befriending them a little so that I can get access to their souls and actually be welcome.

Also, it is a delicate issue and you don't want to say something like "they are in heaven now" because it's superficial and can't really cover the magnitude of the mourning. There is no real formula for dealing with this, or else people would apply it all the time. Being there for someone and telling them that, or just being silent, would probably accomplish more than the words.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2013, 09:02:51 PM by IoanC »

Online augustin717

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2013, 09:49:50 PM »
Romanians say "may god forgive him" or "rest him" to which the reply is the same only that the predicate comes before the subject, which emphasizes the action expressed by the verb.

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2013, 09:52:56 AM »
We pray for repose of the soul of the departed servant where there is neither pain, sorrow nor mourning, but life everlasting. Think about that as you wait to comfort the bereaved and you may find the right words and gestures will come to you.

Online Schultz

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2013, 09:58:00 AM »
Hi there,

What would Orthodox Christians typically say to those whose close (Orthodox Christian) family member has reposed, to express their condolences and comfort those left behind?  Someone in my parish has just lost a close relative.  All I can think of is something along the lines of, "Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of __________", but it feels woefully lacking, doesn't really acknowledge the fact that the person still lives on and that we are still connected with them :-\  Thanks!

Do not underestimate the seemingly generic, "I'm sorry for your loss," type statement.

Fr. Hopko did a splendid podcast on death (I think it was the one titled "Darwin and Christianity - Part 11:  Death") and how we should feel a sense of loss b/c this all wasn't supposed to happen.  Death sucks.  It is the enemy and mourning is not only okay, it is the right thing to do.
"Hearing a nun's confession is like being stoned to death with popcorn." --Abp. Fulton Sheen

Offline Tamara

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2013, 10:17:11 AM »
A short time after the loved ones death, I will bring up happy occasions I had with the departed person or advice the departed had given me that I valued to their living loved ones. I will use the name of the departed liberally because I know it is sweetness for the loved one to hear their departed one's name and to know they haven't been forgotten.

Then I just listen as the grieving person shares whatever story they choose to tell me about the departed.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2013, 10:18:02 AM by Tamara »

Offline Deborah

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Re: Reposed Orthodox Christians and how to comfort those who mourn?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 10:25:41 AM »
LBK, IoanC, augustin717, podkarpatska - thank you very much for the words of comfort offered to the bereaved for those who have reposed within Orthodoxy.  I wrote something that incorporates all those elements in a card sent to the family.  

IoanC - I agree, at times like this, what you say and express to people depends upon your relationship with them and where they stand in matters of God and faith.  In this instance, all people concerned are devout Orthodox Christians and friends, but I'd be careful on a future occasion where I didn't know the person(s) or their beliefs well.

Schultz - yes, sometimes a simple response is most appropriate.  That podcast sounds good, I'll look it up and give it a listen.

Fr. Hopko did a splendid podcast on death (I think it was the one titled "Darwin and Christianity - Part 11:  Death") and how we should feel a sense of loss b/c this all wasn't supposed to happen.  Death sucks.  It is the enemy and mourning is not only okay, it is the right thing to do.
Amen!  This is why I love Orthodoxy :)
Live in South/East Auckland, Franklin or North Waikato regions of New Zealand? Interested in Orthodoxy? Need transport to an Orthodox Church? Want to meet others? Please send me a PM :)

"You have made us for yourself, Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in You" - St. Augustine (my patron saint)