Corporal Works of Mercy: Bury the Dead

Van Thanh Nguyen touches the burial vault of her daughter, Tin Nguyen, during her Dec. 12 burial at Good Shepherd Cemetery in Huntington Beach, Calif. (CNS/Patrick T. Fallon, Reuters)
This article appears in the Works of Mercy feature series. View the full series.

Time, time, time was what was needed by my body to understand, to grieve, and finally, to move on.

But of course, our civilized culture would not accommodate this time. We no longer lay out our dead on our dining tables in our parlors. We don't wash them ourselves. Don't dress them ourselves. Don't have time to sit and talk with them in the wee hours, to curse them for leaving us, to cry, and laugh, and howl.

Bodies of our beloved dead are whisked away, to be readied for burial or cremation by discrete professionals in some sterile place. This is meant to make it easier on us, I suppose.

That night, I fully knew and appreciated that for my body, for the animal being that I am in this life, on this earth, this practice makes death harder.

Amy Morris-Young

How and when have you buried the dead? Please email us your stories and images or leave a comment on our Instagram account.

We hope this series has helped you reflect on the actions we are called to during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, and throughout our lives as Catholics.


Stories on burying the dead:

Italian-made burial pods could turn cemeteries into forests

Green burials offer ecological, ancient way to say goodbye to loved ones

NCR Today: Burying the dead

Homeless man of deep faith given funeral, burial in Vatican City

The ministry of burying the dead

CRS manages 'safe and dignified' burials of Sierra Leone Ebola victims

Green burials reflect a shift to care for the body and soul

We are amalgams of animal and angel, with a mind in the middle

Global Sisters Report:

Untended graves given proper burials by Vietnamese nuns

Q & A with Sr. Josephine Anna Tran Thi Hien, creating new customs in rural Vietnam

From ashes to insight

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here