Creating Waves of Awareness
Different interpretations of illness
Illness and death do not mean the same thing in different cultures and religions. Nevertheless, there is a lot of common ground, that is to say, a minimal knowledge and an effort towards mutual understanding as well as an attempt to help and to listen to the needs of ill and dying people more carefully.
To devout Moslems illness represents God's will, in other words, an enforced test. Moreover Islamic mystics consider illness a sign which indicates that God wants to forgive a person's sins if he can accept his illness and manages to get over it. Death signifies God's mercy towards mankind.
For devout Hindus illness is part of personal karma and a consequence of earlier deeds. To shorten recovery, Hindus almost exclusively eat fruits, which are brought to them by friends. As little medicine as possible is being taken.
For devout Jews preserving and saving life is the supreme commandment. Illness is hostile to life and must therefore be fought. For Jews as well as for non-Jews, visiting and nursing sick persons are religious duties. According to a Jewish proverb: "Anyone who visits a sick person takes a sixtieth of his ailment".
To practising Buddhists illness represents a request to think about the finiteness of life. Men are mortal and a part of the earth to which they will go back one day. Therefore death appears as a change of the body and illness is an opportunity of practising letting go. In Buddhist countries sick and dying people are hardly ever left alone.
Devout Christians believe that Christ wants us to be whole and unhurt. He is also said to have asked us to commit ourselves to healing and integrity. Nevertheless illness is an evil, which has to be fought by all means. It can also indicate that there is something wrong with the patient's inner and outer balance. Illness can help to recollect the meaning of life, too. Even a deadly disease can lead us through processes that are necessary for life, as for devout Christians, death is not the last thing but the birth into a new life.
How to deal with sick and dying people of a different religion
A sick and dying Moslem is never left alone by his relatives and family. As long as he is on the deathbed the visitors stay at his house. Even when he is at the hospital there is always somebody around. Dying and deceased Moslems should always be laid towards Mecca so he feels calm and taken seriously. Anyone who is able to do so should read Suras from the Koran to a dying Moslem. For Moslems religion is a part of themselves, whether they consider themselves strong believers or not. The Egyptian Dr. med. Moussa El-Desouky, who is a member of the pilot group, illustrates this:
"To us, death is like birth: a part of the Creation. Through death the circle of existence becomes complete. A Moslem hopes for a uniting with all his loved ones in the next world. This life is only a minor part of existence and therefore, as a devout Moslem, I am not afraid of death."
A deceased Moslem at the hospital should possibly be washed by a close relative of the same sex. There should not be a lot of noise near someone who is dying or is dead as this might hurt him.
To a sick and dying Hindu the presence of relatives and friends is important. Therefore sick and dying Tamils who have neither relatives nor friends near, are visited by fellow countrymen who are unknown to them. Prayers to calm the soul of the dying person are sung or said at the deathbed. An object which has meant a lot to the deceased is laid next to his head. Every Hindu who has been to the house of mourning should wash before he re-enters his own house. A dead Hindu should be cremated and his ashes scattered on a river. However, it is even more important that the family can see the deceased again.
Devout Jews inform their friends and the rabbi. To a Jew the world we live in is an ante-room to another world. Faith in a world to come, wherein judgement is passed, is central in the Jewish belief. It is very important to respect the dead. Like Moslems, Jews are wrapped in white clothes. The blood must be buried with the deceased. Cremation is prohibited, so is autopsy, unless it can save another life immediately. All organs that have been taken out must be put back and buried with the dead. The funeral must be held as soon as possible. Looking after dead people, holding wake and carrying out their burial are religious rites is entrusted only to the pious and honourable parishioners.
Buddhists believe that nobody can live alone and that everything and everybody form an integrated whole. This realisation is also important as far as dealing with the dying and deceased. "We are part of this earth and are going back to it. Death is only a change of our body. After someone has died the whole family and neighbourhood gather to say prayers. These prayers represent a kind of guide, a light through the darkness of death." The wake and prayers - similar to the weeping at the deathbed of Moslems and Hindus - take place until the burial and are meant not only for the deceased but also to help the bereaved family to let the dying or dead person go. A Buddhist monk or a nun usually says the prayers for the deceased.
After somebody has died his relatives should take the time to accept his death, to mourn and make their farewell. Most religions believe that brain death is "not yet the end of it all" and that in this case the soul has not yet left the body.
If relatives wish to wash the deceased they should be allowed to do so. In most religions and cultures this is the last service owed to the loved one.
HL / 1994.
Unfortunately, these days, just to give an example in this issue, many of the elders are taken to the elders care centers or homes, which in real isn't appropriate as they should be kept at home in peace, in clean environment and the younger family members should be their support, which means that the best would be if one person could be with them all the time. Many of the westerners would say that this isn't possible as they work so much that they hardly can take their children to school or to get home before 7-8 PM, or, there are serious maladies (Alzheimer, Parkinson, etc.) that require special treatments and that justifies the fact that they need to be taken to hospital-like elders houses.
The speed in which the today's generations live is crazy, harmful to everybody and everything. This consumer oriented outlook is so harmful that everything that is old, few years old is going to trash as useless thing or/and is changed to another one. Do you recognize the advertisement campaigns main policies' main ideology:
A sick person today is suspicious and despicable. What a base and smart evil is behind this idea!
Everything must be perfect visually because the inner beauty isn't important and it's very difficult i.e. takes too much effort and time to understand and work on the spiritual needs.
Today we have deliberately CAUSED maladies and that's the reason of neglecting it. The maladies, virus creators don't want to be in the limelight i.e. they smartly diverse the attention from themselves/from their activities through mass media and its tactics and the result is a world where only the scenic tokens like are important alone. Today if a Doctor prescribes a drug or applies a technique that they claim will cure the sick person and that person dies, it's very easy to hide themselves behind paragraphs/protocols and law and say that this is the best what they were able to do, or, in more cases, we can see that the perpetrator will not even say a word and do his/her "job" as nothing happened. Jesus' main task/message was to show compassion and love. Do you see compassion in the world of Healthcare today? What about the other basic human values, which are missing from the "armory" of Doctors and btw, the crowd?
Concerning the death. The death is also a big business. It's a maffia in many countries. Silently working in the backstages. It's interwoven with the social security, pension, the local governments, banks, hospitals and Doctors. At the top of it, the death as a stage of life became ruthless and mass production where the money is the most important value and the last in this list is the man, and it's handled according to this and because of this money dependece, the dying people in majority cases are kept almost like inprisoned animals.
Dying people should be also kept at home if it's possible. The family should be with them. The real tears of love of the beloved ones can't be purchased by any luxurious services. The farewell thus will be reposeful for the passing one and the beloved ones as well. The not-closed issues between the dying person and the other one/s (not the so called 3rd party persons) this way will be calmly closed by God, which they will feel in their Hearts and the process of leaving will happen as it should. With helping the dying ones with compassion, attention and love to go through this stage as clear as they can we can help to purify our and their lives and get rid of bad karma. So, to neglect these people is a sin but helping them with love elevate both of us on higher spiritual level or liberate us from the circle of life. The dicision is in our hands.
Dear Dr. Dushyant,
Thank you for this post. I just wanted to add this note to this important topic. The real Homeopaths show mercy, love, compassion, attention why? Because God implanted all these traits in the subject of homeopathy which is imbibed during the education process.
Very informative about the caring and perspective of death in the circle of life. The only thing I can add is the Jews do not have a 'wake.' There are varying degrees of mourning, and special rituals for caring for the ill, elderly, one who is passing from this life to the next. There are books written about the traditions for the grieving family members from the initial time of death to the anniversary of that day and time. Blessings, Debby