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.

“Regarding the undaunted way in which Latter-day Saints confront death, well-known literary scholar Harold Bloom proclaimed the following in American Religion, page 29:

“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?

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0 comments for “What is this thing that men call death?

  1. Anne Bradshaw
    February 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for some interesting posts. I really enjoyed reading them. As for funerals–the LDS variety are way more comforting and inspiring compared to others I’ve attended over the years. I love the lack of pomp and ceremony, and always come away feeling uplifted and close to the departing spirit in a warm and happy way.

  2. Anonymous
    April 7, 2008 at 2:31 am

    thanks for the link to the world’s general confusion, frustration, etc over death. if you really want to see the difference attend a funeral where half the congregation is mormon and the other half not. a side note. glenn beck’s tribute to pres hinckley on his passing was very touching. (that clip is still on glenbeck.com)dick

  3. Van
    April 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    I agree that Glen Beck’s comments were very touching. I haven’t been to a lot of funerals of other denominations, but do agree that LDS funerals are generally quite hopeful. When a young person is involved or there are tragic circumstances are involved the feelings are certainly quite deep, but there is hope. I have been to a Buddhist funeral (on my mission in Japan); it was the absolute saddest thing I have ever seen. I think they had payed mourners; I have never heard such wailing.

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