Ways for Christians to Remembering the Departed

A girl in the graveyard.
A girl in the graveyard. (photo: CCD File Photo)
By Qian XunApril 13th, 2017

My father passed away when I was a middle school student.

Since he left us all of a sudden without any signs and only stayed with us in a short time, my father did not leave a word.

Before he was buried, I wanted to go near the coffin, to see him one last time; but, my old uncle stopped me, saying in tears that it was not allowed.

At that time, my uncle was washing my father's face with a towel with his shaking hands and sighing in sorrowful tears. I stood by the side, watching him and weeping.

In the first two years after my father's burial, I kept dreaming of him. In my dreams, I would always hold him in joy and tell him "I thought you are here no more." Then I felt confused and wondered how could I meet my father again, who had passed away. Sometimes, when I pinch myself in these dreams, the joy and hurt would wake me up at night. Seeing that my father was not with me, I would cry until the pillow became wet. Sometimes, I did not feel the pain; but, I would keep crying in these dreams at the top of my voice until I was woken up. 

Though I thought that as time went by, I would gradually come to accept the fact of my father's death in calmness, as I grew older each year, I missed him even more.

Shortly after I became a Christian, we talked about hell in one of our Bible studies. I asked about the end of people who did not believe in Jesus when they were alive.

A brother said, "God will judge each man according to the act of his life; but, who can ensure that he is good at all times according to the high standard of God? Therefore, they are likely to have a miserable end in hell, those who failed to believe in Jesus when they were alive."

Upon hearing his answer, I immediately became angry and knowing nothing at that time. In spite of my efforts to control myself, my throat became sore and I wept, saying" My father did not enjoy one day of his life when he was alive and had suffered so much in order to provide us a better future. Now he is dead, he is suffering in hell and will be suffering forever. God is too unfair!"

When a sister saw me crying, she comforted me right away saying "I heard before that Jesus, before he rose to life, had gone to hell spreading the Gospel. Maybe your father has believed in Him." 

Since then, I had been praying for my father silently.

Later, after I told about my continual prayers for my father in a Bible study, people asked me to stop it as soon as possible for the Bible says that "God is not the God of the dead but the living." I still remember the pain I felt at that time even now.

After marriage, I went home once with my husband and brought him to my father's grave. Because we were taught that Christians should not bow down to the dead in the traditional way, we did not burn any incense or bow down and only stood there crying. We did not speak nor dare to look at each other to avoid greater sorrow.

These things happened long time ago, but I mention them again today because I see most people still believe that Christians should not offer sacrifices to their dead ancestors or remember them in a traditional way according a Christian Times' survey. The survey showed the trends in Christians who still go to commemorate their ancestors in Sweep Clean Day and the readers' feedback and comments regarding the subject.

Today, I have become more mature in faith. I had a sense of Resolution. I started to reflect on my faith personally, taking the initiative to approach the truth a long time ago.

Where my father ended up is up to God. I believe that He is holy, righteous and loving, so I have let it go for a long time. As to whether Christians can remember their ancestors, I have a clear answer now. I worship only God; but, I respect and love my father. Now he is dead, I just want to express how much I miss him.

A while ago, while I was chatting with my husband, we talked about death. I asked him, "One day, you will see your loved ones leave this earth, will you bow down before them?"

He answered "I may do it if I think that is the best way of expressing my sorrow." After pausing a few seconds, he said, "I think it is ok to use any way as long as the way can express our sorrow. How to remember dead ancestors is very personal, depending on one's background. I do not think we should put any restraints on it."

After hearing his words, I completely agreed with him.

When our loved ones pass away, we will feel painful and cannot help missing them. But due to our different backgrounds, we have different ways to express our sorrow. If bowing down to the ground can best express your missing thoughts for them, do it. As long as you do not worship them as idols in a religious way, but only express your missing thought for them, it does not contradict Christian faith.

Because we still love the deceased, we feel pain, miss them and go to their cemetery to weep.

After my father was buried, I have only visited his grave three times. I know deeply how it feels to stand before a deceased one's grave. Though I tried hard to control myself, tears kept running out of my eyes; but, I did not dare to cry aloud because I feared that those around me would become more sorrowful.

Next time, I will go to his grave alone and kneel down to cry without any restraint.

About the Author: Qian Xun, a Christian sister in Shaan Xi. She holds a Master's degree in Law. She can be contacted at qianyuqianxun_xun@163.com. As a full-time mother, she welcomes e-mails and communication to broaden her horizons and inspire her writing interest. 

Translated By: Alvin Zhou

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