I told her how angry I was with some family members in the wake of Dad’s death. I didn’t recognize this anger, hostility, and desire to lash out.
“Stop that!” She said it firmly and sternly. “You need to say the Jesus Prayer 200 times a day.”
Moments later she apologized for being so abrupt with me, but she had no need. She said what I needed to hear in the way I needed to hear it.
Understand, she was not telling me not to grieve, but instructing me how to do it without damaging my soul and my relationships.
I have been surprised to have a few people provide me with a game plan for my Dad’s passing and for afterward. These things are helpful at a time when you are floundering and your thoughts are scattered.
Read the Psaltry aloud. Hold his hand. Tell him you love him. Read the prayers for the dying. Keep talking to him and praying, reading the Psalms, after his heart stops, as the person may live on for 8-9 minutes afterward.
These instructions guided me. Otherwise, my guidebook would have been a mush-mash of tv and movie scripts.
I’ve heard some say that Orthodoxy is a bunch of empty rituals. We may have rituals, but empty? I’ve found them rich, meaningful, and full of life.