What is this thing that men call death?
I recently read an article in Newsweek about how others view LDS funerals. I was a little surprised at their surprise of how things usually go in our funerals. Are our funerals so very different? And from an essay found in the LDS Newsroom commenting about funerals after the funeral of President Hinckley, “What is This Thing That Men Call Death?“:
“Mormon funerals are typically marked by an atmosphere of hopefulness and peace. They generally are not burdened by the inconsolable grief and despair so often seen in other funerals. Latter-day Saints who mourn the death of loved ones are lightened by the assurance and understanding that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers.
“In addition, some might be surprised by the lack of formal ritual in these funerals. The commemoration service is conducted by a lay minister and features heartfelt tributes and comforting music. Moreover, the basic format, tone and length of President Hinckley’s funeral are typical of what might be seen in the funerals of regular Church members.
“What is the essence of religion? … Religion rises inevitably from our apprehension of our own death. To give meaning to meaninglessness is the endless quest of all religion.
“… Of all religions that I know, the one that most vehemently and persuasively defies and denies the reality of death is the original Mormonism of the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator Joseph Smith.”
I like that. It cuts right to the chase, doesn’t it? We are all brought to equal ground when confronted with the question of how we will face death. When all is said and done, how will we feel when we are called to pass through the veil and enter the world of the spirits there?
I concur with the writer’s assessment of Mormon funerals. I prefer them to other types of funerals I have attended. It is true that there are usually no displays of inconsolable grief and despair, or at least among the faithful who understand the doctrine of eternity.
Update: The words to the hymn can be found on the Deseret News website.
A PDF of the sheet music to the hymn is also being shared by the Deseret News.
What do you think? Are LDS funerals really that different from those of other faiths?