Do not mourn excessively (Sir 38:18-38:23)

“Grief may result in death.

A sorrowful heart

Saps one’s strength.

When a person is taken away,

Sorrow is over.

But the life of the poor

Weighs down the heart.

Do not give your heart

To sorrow!

Drive it away!

Remember your own end.

Do not forget!

There is no coming back.

You do the dead no good.

You injure yourself.

Remember his fate.

Yours is like it.

Yesterday it was his.

Today it is yours.

Me yesterday!

You today!

When the dead is at rest,

Let his remembrance rest also.

Be comforted for him

When his spirit has departed.”

Sirach did not want a long mourning period because grief could lead to the death of the person grieving. A sad heart can sap your strength. When the person was buried, the period of sorrow should end despite the fact that your heart is still heavy. Drive away sorrow and grief. Remember you own life. There is no coming back from the grave. You can’t do anything for the dead. You may injure yourself. Your fate will be the same as his. He was here yesterday and gone today. Your fate may be the same, here today and gone tomorrow. When the dead are at rest, let their remembrance die with them. Their spirit has departed, since we have the Greek idea of body and spirit.

Mourning for the dead (Sir 38:16-38:17)

“My child!

Let your tears fall

For the dead!

As one in great pain,

Begin the lament!

Lay out the body

With due ceremony.

Do not neglect the burial.

Let your weeping be bitter!

Let your wailing be fervent!

Make your mourning

Worthy of the departed.

Do this for one day,

Or two.

Avoid criticism!

Be comforted for your grief.”

Sirach points out the importance of the correct ceremonial actions for the dead, like many of the ancient Middle Eastern societies. You should not be ashamed to cry for the dead, because you are in great pain. You should lay out the body according to the proper rituals. Make sure to bury the dead, a common topic in the biblical writings, especially Tobit. You can have bitter wailing and crying that is worthy of the departed person. Do this for a day or two to avoid criticism. There is no need for a long mourning period. However, in chapter 22, he said that there should be a 7 day mourning period for the dead. You should be comforted in your mourning for the dead.