The Quaker Way


This In Memoriam is about a stranger. Last night, a friend posted about someone who he had lost to breast cancer.

The post and the passing of a complete stranger got me thinking about life, love, loss, and how world faiths mourn. Although I am born Jewish and I know Mourner’s Kaddish by heart, I love the way Quakers celebrate a person’s life. 

In Judaism it is the person’s name, in the Quaker faith it is their story.

During the funeral service, the Quakers meet in a plain building – a meetinghouse – and after an elder introduces everyone, there is a poem and scripture. Following that anyone who is compelled to talk about the person who has passed, then gets up and speaks about their experiences with the person.

Quakers don’t have a central belief on whether we survive after the death of our bodies. There is no notion of heaven, hell, reward or punishment. This is not something Friends spend time on. Many figure that what happens when we die is something we will eventually experience – or won’t – but what happens next to the living is more important and we can do something about that now. That is the Quaker Way.

Back to my friend and his loss.

Liz Flores, I never met you, but my friend wrote a beautiful tribute to you. Whereever you are, I hope it is peaceful and strangers like myself take a moment to think about you and your contributions.