The God Squad: Which lover do we pick after death?

Q: The scenario: My lover and future partner dies unexpectedly. Yes, people say that life goes on, he wouldn't want you to be alone, blah, blah, blah, but when I find another person and fall in love again, when I die, do I go to my deceased lover, or do I wait for my new love to die? Or if my new love goes first, do I pick when I die who to be with? It's almost like I don't want to move on and fall in love again. Part of me wants to bide my time until we meet again and finish what we started. Please help me with this.

— No name


A: The first thing is: May God comfort you on your loss. Secondly, life after death and love are deep mysteries around which we construct our lives and hopes. They are not "blah, blah, blah." My view is that the souls of all those we have ever loved await us in heaven.

I do not believe that they are jealous of each other, nor do I believe that they are upset with us that we had the courage to fall in love again after their passing. If they truly loved us, they would want us to find new love to ease the pain of being without them. What I think is happening to you is that you're still broken by grief and need some time to let your lover go.

Don't force the issue. When you are ready to give yourself in selfless love to another person, you will know what to do and your past love will not keep you from future joy.

Q: I can't get myself to pray for my dead friend because I don't know his address! He might be happy or he might be hot, if you get my drift. Help me figure this out please.

— Anonymous


A: Judaism teaches that the prayers of the living for the deceased go into the prayer's list of good deeds and help during the spiritual debriefing our souls go through after death. In my mind, a better and more accessible reason to pray for the dead is to help us balance our grief with gratitude. Our prayers help to focus our souls and our minds on the good works of our dearly departed. In that way, we avoid the natural danger of focusing only on the pain of what has been taken from us and not also on our gratitude for what we have been given. Prayer for the dead is an essential act of spiritual balancing.

Q: What's the religious point of view on mediums?

— J., Long Island, N.Y.


A: Despite the uncomfortable biblical text (1 Samuel 28:7-20) in which King Saul speaks to the dead prophet Samuel with the help of the witch of Endor, the evolved religious view of all the Abrahamic faiths is that praying for the dead is a good thing but talking to the dead is not (see Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

There are many good spiritual reasons for this prohibition of consulting mediums. First, it is not possible, and most mediums are fakes who prey upon those weakened by grief. Second, it blurs the barrier God has established between life, and life after death. Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us that "The secret things are of God." Third, it can block a person's grief work to believe that contact with their dearly departed is still possible. It makes death just a change in cellphone number and not what it is, a crossing over to a new and mysterious journey.


I want to thank all my Muslim readers who sent such kind words about my recent column praising the spiritual virtues of Ramadan. T. wrote: "On behalf of my family and Muslims everywhere, I would like to thank you for that extremely positive article. During these times when it seems like Muslims and Islam are only mentioned negatively in the media, it was refreshing to open a newspaper and read to the contrary. You educated your readers about this most noblest of Islamic months not only factually and objectively, but also spiritually and enthusiastically as well. Once again, thank you."

Thank you, T. May all of us who are the children of Abraham find each other during all the other months of the year.

I did receive a helpful note from F.: "In your column about Ramadan, there was an error about zakat (charity). Zakat is not on income but on savings. It is calculated on gold and silver and gold and silver jewelry above a certain floor and all cash savings (less loans) held for one year. There is also zakat on certain business assets like inventory. Thank you for an otherwise informative article."

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