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Is a coffin for the dead or for the mourners?

31 Dec 2021 at 07:25hrs | Views
WE are all going to die. That is the sad fact and fate that awaits us all.

But our journey to the other side differs. Some are turned into ashes in a crematorium. The majority are buried six feet under, in a coffin.

While in the days of yore, the type and design of the coffin did not matter, today the dead are bid farewell in beautiful coffins.

And that has raised questions — is the coffin for the dead who know and feel nothing or for the mourners?

Death to Christians means separation. When the body dies, the spirit or soul is separated from the body. The body is then considered an empty vessel. Do whatever you want with it!

To my knowledge the Bible doesn't speak of a coffin. However, as Christians we are commanded to live by the laws of the land as long as they don't interfere with what God expects.

Therefore, when man passed the law that the dead were to be enclosed in what we call a coffin, Christians were obliged to obey.

There is the choice of cremation as well and Christians can use that venue for death. A choice has to be made according to the law.

Coffins and funerals give the family and friends the opportunity to show their love and respect for the deceased, and help them heal emotionally during the funeral and afterwards.

"Personally, I believe that using a coffin is giving my loved one a dignified send-off, after getting an expensive coffin for my mother it really helped me to heal emotionally knowing that at least I have done something for her for the last time, in this case a coffin is for both of us (the dead and the mourners)," said Bongani Moyo.

It is easy to carry a corpse in a coffin rather than wrapped in a shroud and slung over someone's shoulder.

The coffin has no real purpose for the deceased, it is for the surviving friends and family therefore, a funeral is not for the dead but for the grieving living.

"A coffin is for the mourners because it is just to show respect for the corpse which once was of a human. I believe  we feel unpleasant that dust falls upon the face of our loved one," said George Kandiero, the president of the

Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association (Zinatha).

Without a coffin most people would find it hard to see earth thrown on a body as they will imagine that the body is being buried alive.

Most people want the bodies of public figures or loved ones protected from decay.

A coffin is needed as it may provide a safe atmosphere that helps protect and preserve the body preventing the soil from entering the body through moisture and bacteria and speeding its decomposition.

There is no Christian teaching on coffins or burial which makes sense. When Christianity was founded, many Christians ended up being burnt alive or devoured, or martyred in other creative ways.

"There's certainly no religious construct that leads Christians to use a casket. I think it's just a traditional thing, and it makes a lot of sense if the deceased is going to be transported for burial so basically a coffin is for the mourners.

"Once the body is bereft of the soul, our focus and concern should be for the eternal, not the temporal. Thus, there is no ‘standard' Christian burial ritual," said Father Limukani Ndlovu.

All death customs are cultural. Burial in a coffin may be common in Italy, where Roman Catholic practices predominate.

Burying the dead has been a feature of most cultures in history. It goes way back, way before Christianity. The earliest known human burial dates back 100 000 years, Christianity dates back just 2 000 years or so.

Coffins as we know them did not exist in the ancient world except for nobility and then it was not the coffin but one that encased the body such as King Tut had.

The most common practice in Jesus' time was for a body to be placed in a tomb until the flesh decayed and then the bones placed in a small box and buried.

Christians bury their dead with and without a casket, or they cremate the dead with or without a casket. The casket is a cultural thing not necessarily for the dead because once a person is dead, he is dead and can not see all things.

To be buried in a coffin is just a symbolic way of showing that we believe the body of the deceased will be resurrected. Being cremated means that the family won't have to pay so much for the funeral. Jesus will resurrect everyone, whether they were buried or cremated.

Since the dawn of time, humans created traditions and customs to ensure their loved ones rest well in the afterlife.

Death in different cultures has come to mean different things, and many ancient people had strong beliefs about how to honour the dead. One such tradition found in Ancient Greece is Charon's obol.

Charon's obol is a myth surrounding the placement of coins on the eyes of the dead. According to legend, the coins were a bribe or payment used to ferry the dead into the Underworld.

While this might sound strange in modern times, this practice brought peace to ancient people, ensuring their family members made it safely into the afterlife.

An obol was a type of coin from ancient Greece. The only way to make sure he got his payment was to bury the dead with a coin on their eyes or even in their mouths.

While people were buried with coins, they were also buried with more than just one coin. Several coins, usually of higher value than an obol, were found on various parts of the body.

Perhaps this was a way to provide wealth to loved ones in the afterlife, or maybe it was intended as a ferry payment to Charon himself.

This is the same as a coffin, it might be a way to show the world or the people that they afford an expensive one.

Today, putting coins on the eyes of the dead is still a practice in some parts of the world, though not necessarily for the same reason as in ancient Greece.

Today, this isn't necessary since plastic fillers are placed by the mortician behind the eyes to avoid the sunken appearance. However, it is still common to cover the eyes of the deceased until the body is taken to a funeral home or buried.

Source - B-Metro
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