If you are going to live a long time, one of the challenges is dealing with loved ones dying. When grieving, consider King David's example of when to mourn, and when to end mourning. King David was one of God's all time favorites--a poet, a warrior, and King. But he had one big sin--he lusted after Bathsheba. He arranged for her husband to be sent into the heat to battle in hopes he would be killed. He was. David married Bathsheba and she became pregnant. The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin. Even with his repenting, Nathan told David his child to be would die.

David prayed, fasted, and wept for days. But the child died anyway. He then took a bath, got dressed, prayed, and had dinner. His friends asked why he no longer mourned. David said that when his child was ill he hoped God would have pity on them. But now he is dead there is nothing he can do for him. (So he went on with his life.) David comforted Bathsheba and they had another son, Solomon. Solomon did quite well. Thus, God apparently was pleased with how David handled mourning for his son.

When has one mourned enough? I see a lot of people feel guilty if they don't continue mourning indefinitely. Religious traditions can be very helpful in prompting us to do intensive mourning and giving us mutually agreed upon criteria for when we have mourned enough. Jewish traditions in particular are very precise about mourning requirements and are a good example of
very helpful mourning traditions.

Jewish law provides for very loving care of the body before burial but no make-up, embalming, or attempts to make the person look lifelike. The burial follows soon with a plain wooden coffin (so there is no distinction between rich and poor and there is no attempt to attempt to prevent nature from decomposing the body).

Congregants and friends then prepare a meal of recuperation that starts seven days of intense mourning at home. Friends visit frequently, providing support and preparing meals. After the seven days of "sitting Shiva," family members can return to work or school but not engage in entertainment for thirty days after the burial. They pray daily with at least ten other Jews to have community support in their loss. When mourning your own parents the mourning lasts for eleven months. After that, there are special prayers on the anniversary and four holidays a year.

In David's time, many babies died in childbirth or shortly after childbirth. To prevent parents from frequently being in mourning, Jewish law determined that a baby was not a person until he or she was 30 days old. Hence, while David must have been very grief stricken, there were not mourning traditions for his son. Today with children rarely dying in childbirth, Jewish laws have begun to recognize and provide for grieving for these deaths as well.

Whatever your religious or cultural traditions, mourning traditions can be very helpful in knowing how to mourn, and in knowing when you have mourned enough.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Michael Brickey, America’s preeminent Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include: Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs. Visit www.DrBrickey.com for a free report on anti-aging secrets and his free Defy Aging Newsletter with practical anti-aging tips. Hear him interview leading anti-aging experts and/or read the interview transcripts with the anti-aging experts.

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