Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Quakers are encouraged to “contemplate death . . . both their own and the death of those they are closest to.”[i] Death is to be seen as a “fact”[ii] and such an understanding is meant to set us free from fear and avoidance. Mourning and grief are not to be hidden and Quakers are led to embrace those who mourn.[iii]
Quakers have even gone so far as to say the “great object of life is to prepare for death.”[iv]
Healthy preparation for death includes healthy appreciation of aging. Quakers are encouraged to “approach old age with courage and hope.”[v]
Acknowledging that death will happen to us all and being unafraid to talk about death can severely limit us. Quakers encourage practicality in the realm of death and dying. “Do we arrange the practical matters (regarding possessions, location of documents, burial, etc.) that will arise when we die so that our families and Meeting are not unduly burdened?”[vi] But this practicality is not at the expense of the spiritual and interpersonal. “Are we comfortable with the relationships we will leave behind when we depart?”[vii]
Quaker memorials are very much like any other Quaker worship although the vocal ministry may be inspired by the life of one whose death is being honored.
Many expressions touch up against death in order to give them added strength and meaning. A variety of examples will follow over the next number of days.
[i] Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 30th Query and Advice
[iv] Central Alaska Friends Conference, Advice on Death
[v] Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 29th Query and Advice
[vi] Lake Erie Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Query #22