One of the great myths of our modern age is that all the dead just instantly go to heaven. I believe in merciful God but I also believe we can only see God face to face when we have been perfected. Most of us die with unfinished business. Hence the need to pray for the dead. Kathleen Raine, the great Celtic poet reflects on the passing of our loved ones:
Today a fine old face has gone under the soil;
For generations past women hereabouts have borne
Her same name and stamp of feature.
Her brief identity was not her own
But theirs who formed and sent her out
To wear the proud bones of her clan, and live its story,
Who now receive back into the ground
Worn features of ancestral mould...
Many songs they knew who now are silent.
Into their memories the dead are gone
Who haunt the living in an ancient tongue
Sung by old voices to the young,
Telling of sea and isles, of boat and byre and glen;
And from their music the living are reborn
Into a remembered land,
To call ancestral memories home
And all that ancient grief and love our own.