Life and Death
Two of the big questions religions have sought to answer over the years are: “Why does life exist as we know it?” and “What happens after we die?” Unitarian Universalism won’t promise you ironclad answers to these questions. But we will promise you a community of learning and support to explore what matters most.
At the beginning of life, we welcome children with ceremonies of Child Dedication, in which we affirm the goodness and the blessing in every human life. You could say we believe in “original blessing” rather than “original sin.” Families and congregations dedicate themselves to look after the well-being of the child, because we take to heart the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” We embrace and celebrate the miracle that is each person’s unique and unrepeatable life, and uphold our interdependence with every life.
At the end of life, we offer communities of care and support. We companion dying people and their loved ones through the sad journey of saying goodbye, and the long journey of grief.
Unitarian Universalist views about life after death are informed by both science and spiritual traditions. Many of us live with the assumption that life does not continue after death, and many of us hold it as an open question, wondering if our minds will have any awareness when we are no longer living. Few of us believe in divine judgment after death. It’s in our religious DNA: the Universalist side of our tradition broke with mainstream Christianity by rejecting the idea of eternal damnation.
Unitarian Universalist memorial services and funerals are moving occasions. Because our tradition has no “one way” of doing funerals, our ministers are able to create personalized services that mourn and celebrate the unique individual who has died. Friends and loved ones of the deceased work closely with the presiding minister in creating the service. If you would like arrange such a service, please contact a congregation near you.
- From UUWorld: Reading Our Lives: We Write the Story of Our Lives With Each Choice We Make, but Do We Take Time to Read It?
- From Skinner House Books: While Still There Is Light: Writings from a Minister Facing Death
- From Skinner House Books: Who Will Remember Me: A Daughter's Memoir of Grief and Recovery
- From inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop: Making Peace with Our Own Death: Pastoral Notes from a Unitarian Universalist Elder by Tom Owen-Towle
While Still There Is Light Writings from a Minister Facing Death
Nancy Shaffer, Mary McKinnon Ganz
From Skinner House Books
In 2011, Nancy Shaffer's life suddenly changed when she was diagnosed with what would be a fatal brain tumor.