Requiesce in pace
Patricia Elizabeth Voelkel
May 17th, 1937 – September 9th, 2018
As per Zen tradition, AZC has held memorial services for the past 6 weeks, and will hold the final Memorial Service on Tuesday, October 23rd at 6:10pm.
About the ceremony:
The number 7 is significant in Buddhism because it comes from the days of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. In ancient India, the number 7 was significant because anything more than a week in the future was beyond human control. In particular, there were no foods that would keep for more than 7 days, thus one should not worry about things that far into the future.
Thus, memorial services were held every 7 days for 7 times, thus the 49th day memorial service was a “major” memorial service date. It seems that the 35th day memorial came into somewhat prominence in China. It is pretty certain that the 100th day memorial came into prominence in China, since it is an even number.
In general, in the Buddhist tradition, odd and even numbers have an added meaning. In particular, odd numbers have a sense “of becoming” and even numbers are complete or fulfilled. Thus, 7, 49 and other odd numbers would certainly be used to remind us that being human meant that we were not yet complete, i.e., we have more to do and thus we are still “becoming.”
It is very interesting that current scientific studies on death and grieving have supposedly shown that the second stage of grief (the first stage being the dealing with the physical death and funeral rituals—the busy time immediately after a death)is a period of adjustment and acceptance and is supposed to end about 45 to 50 days after a death.
These studies validate what Buddhists have known for centuries. For centuries, Buddhists have held the 49th day memorial service so that family and close friends can gather again and ensure that they can go forward.
Great is the matter of Birth and Death. Don’t waste time!
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.