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Author Topic: Mourning Practice(s) of Oriental Orthodox  (Read 2765 times) Average Rating: 0
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Elisha
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« on: January 20, 2005, 03:53:07 AM »

I attend an OCA parish that has a large Eritrean contingent.  One of their members (hasn't been to church in 5+ years) was murdered at the age of 27 (drugs/gang related I hear).

At a funeral for another tragic murder, I was told that the Eritrean loudly cried, screamed and mourned - rather chaotic.  We have a funeral (not at church, but at the funeral home) this Saturday and we are told to expect the same as last time.  This seems rather counter to St. Paul exhorting us to weep with joy and not like those without hope.  Is this customary among Eritreans and other Oriental Orthodox?  Any explanation why?  Thanks.
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Antonious Nikolas
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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2005, 04:12:59 PM »


Hi Elisha!  I deleted the multiple bumps.  In the future, please don't do that in such a short time frame.  The post wasn't here all that long.

All I can say in answer to your question is that people act funny at funerals.  I attended an Eastern Orthodox funeral a long time ago (at an OCA parish in New England, I won't say what nationality but they were so-called "ethnic/cradle" Orthodox.) where the people were not only mourning loudly, but the deceased woman's two sons started fist fighting and wrestling on the ground shouting, "You did this to Mom!"...""No, you did!"...etc.

I also know that people have gotten quite emotional at the funerals of Orthodox members of my own family.  You will find that funerals in some parts of the world can be like that, particularly in some Middle Eastern and African cultures.  It is not that they don't believe in the hope of the Ressurrection that St. Paul spoke about, but human beings can't help but be distressed at these times.  They weep as much for the loss they will feel in their own lives as they do for the departed.
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Elisha
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2005, 05:50:27 PM »


Hi Elisha! I deleted the multiple bumps. In the future, please don't do that in such a short time frame. The post wasn't here all that long.

All I can say in answer to your question is that people act funny at funerals. I attended an Eastern Orthodox funeral a long time ago (at an OCA parish in New England, I won't say what nationality but they were so-called "ethnic/cradle" Orthodox.) where the people were not only mourning loudly, but the deceased woman's two sons started fist fighting and wrestling on the ground shouting, "You did this to Mom!"...""No, you did!"...etc.

I also know that people have gotten quite emotional at the funerals of Orthodox members of my own family. You will find that funerals in some parts of the world can be like that, particularly in some Middle Eastern and African cultures. It is not that they don't believe in the hope of the Ressurrection that St. Paul spoke about, but human beings can't help but be distressed at these times. They weep as much for the loss they will feel in their own lives as they do for the departed.

Sorry about the Bump - I didn't want the thread to be lost in the shuffle.

Yes, at some of our funerals people have been emotional - but not as bad as your example.  I'm sure it happened though and understand the anxiety of the situation.  The only other Eritrean funeral of recent memory (not mine, but the priest's) at our church was a couple of years back where a teenager was murdered - again, gang related sadly.  I'm told the people were very loud, crying, screaming, etc.  I think this was in the church though, so distressing for the priest.  He probably actually went to church somewhat recently as opposed to this recent tragedy.  I'm wondering if they will behave the same if one of their older members dies (there are several that are not young).  Again, I'm wondering if it is a Coptic/Eritrean/whatever custom to mourn so "dreadfully" for the lack of a better term.
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Antonious Nikolas
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2005, 07:43:01 PM »

Well, all of the Ethiopians and Eritreans I hang out with are relatively young, and thanks be to God, I have never had to attend any funerals so far!  I will stand down and wait for my brothers Aklie or Amde to field this question.

P.S. - As to the fist-fighting brothers, the priest told me that they were not regular attendees of the Liturgy, but only Christmas and Easter at best.
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Salpy
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2005, 11:39:05 PM »

I think it is a matter of culture, rather than religion. My dad is of Northern European ancestry and mom is Armenian. I grew up balancing the two cultures and one thing that was very different was the degree to which emotion was allowed to be shown. On dad's side, everyone was very reserved, no matter what, even during funerals. Wailing and carrying on never happened. On mom's side, emotion was much more freely displayed. Wailing and carrying on happened quite a bit, and not just at funerals.

A couple of years ago, I attended a funeral for a Lebanese man who was Byzantine Catholic. He was in his thirties when he died, and his mother was yelling, crying and carrying on during the funeral. At one point she went up to the casket, threw herself on her son's body and, sobbing, began kissing his face and stroking his hair. It was very sad. I can't blame her--your child is the one person you should never outlive.

I know that as Christians we are supposed to be happy for the deceased, as the day of their death is really their birthday into heaven. However, it is easier said than done. There is still the void left when someone you loved and spoke to daily is suddenly gone. Perhaps it is selfish to grieve, but the grief is real and I think that God understands that. Remember that our Lord wept at Lazarus' funeral.

My mom always says, and I agree with her, that the Armenian way of mourning is the most healthy. For forty days after the death, the family fasts and is allowed to give full vent to their grief. It is understood that they are supposed to do this and there is no shame in it. On the fortieth day, there is a requiem and a meal at which the fast is broken. It is understood that at this point the family is expected to move on with their lives while fondly remembering the departed one. The more reserved, keep-your-emotions-to-yourself way of handling grief is, in my opinion, less healthy.

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Antonious Nikolas
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2005, 09:37:46 AM »


Thank you Salpy.  This is what I was trying to convey, but you were far more eloquent.  Thanks again, and welcome to the boards!
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2009, 01:20:31 AM »

My Priest once told me that the mourning practices of Christians at our Church was "too much." He felt like there was a spirit of despair and hopelessness that wasn't healthy or Christian.

I can't judge how others mourn. I think that all we can do as fellow Christians is help our brothers and sisters who mourn to focus on the efficacy of the Cross and the mercy of Our Lord. We should cry with them, pray with them, and offer them our sincerest sympathy for their loss.

But Orthodox Christians - of all people - should manifest a spirit of hope. For we don't even see the grave as the end of hope, offering our prayers for those who have departed from the body.

Selam
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Tags: Oriental Orthodox mourning funerals funeral practices 
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