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Do the Dead Grieve?

Reading C. S. Lewis, I was struck by this thought:

If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.

(From A Grief Observed, pp. 49-50. Emphasis added.)

I’d known that Lewis was comfortable with the whole idea of purgatory, but I was fascinated by his idea that purgatory might entail grief. On the one hand, we want our loved ones to be happy — to be, as we say at such times, “in a better place.” But there is a slight, selfish appeal to the idea that they grieve for us, just as we grieve for them. How much sharper it would make our grief if we thought our loved one had simply shrugged us off.

We Presbyterians, however, aren’t keen on the concept of purgatory. Our Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, in the Service of Witness to the Resurrection we have at funerals, says, by contrast:

We thank you [God],
that for him/her death is past
and pain is ended,
and that he/she has now entered
the joy that you have prepared.

It’s an intriguing notion, nevertheless. I don’t have time right now to do a serious study, but I’ll have to keep this in the back of my mind, in case I run across Scriptural arguments for or against the idea.

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