Comfort for Those Who Mourn

THE terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, in New York City and in Washington, D.C., horrified people all over the world. In one day, thousands died, including hundreds of heroic fire fighters, policemen, and paramedics.

Since that event, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made a concerted effort to comfort those who have lost loved ones in the tragedy. They have done this in order “to bind up the brokenhearted” and “to comfort all the mourning ones.”​—Isaiah 61:1, 2.

Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have found that those who lose loved ones in death often ponder over the questions that follow. The Bible has the answers. Why not check the Scriptural references below in your own copy of the Bible?

Is a person’s death predestined?

At Ecclesiastes 9:11, the Bible states that “time and unforeseen occurrence” (“chance,” New English Bible) befall all mankind. If death is predestined, why does the Bible encourage us to take safety precautions?​—For instance, see Deuteronomy 22:8.

Why do we die?

The first human pair, Adam and Eve, were placed in an earthly paradise. If they had remained obedient, they would not have died. Death was to result only if humans disobeyed God. (Genesis 1:28; 2:15-17) Sadly, Adam and Eve did disobey their Creator. As a result, they paid the penalty​—death. Since all humans have descended from Adam and Eve, all have inherited sin and death. The Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.”​—Romans 5:12.

What is the condition of the dead?

After Adam rebelled, God said: “You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) Hence, death is a state of total unconsciousness​—really, nonexistence. The Bible states: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) The Bible also says that when a person dies, “he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”​Psalm 146:3, 4.

Don’t we have a soul that survives death?

The Bible clearly teaches that your soul is simply you, not some abstract entity that will survive your death. (Genesis 2:7; Proverbs 2:10; Jeremiah 2:34) Since this is so, we can say that when a person dies, a soul has died. The Bible clearly states: “The soul [that is, the person] that is sinning . . . will die.”​—Ezekiel 18:4.

What hope is there for those who have died?

The Bible reveals that it is God’s purpose to restore the dead to life by means of a resurrection to a paradise earth, where sickness and death will be no more. Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”​—John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:1-4.

When speaking of his recently deceased friend Lazarus, Jesus compared death to sleep. (John 11:11-13) Moreover, after Jesus resurrected him, Lazarus said nothing about having been in a place of torment or a place of bliss during the brief period of his death. (John 11:37-44) This is understandable, for the dead are unconscious. They do not experience suffering but await the “hour” in which they will be raised. In any event, the fact that Jesus resurrected Lazarus shows that the dead can live again. Indeed, by this miracle Jesus showed on a small scale what will take place on earth under the rule of God’s Kingdom. (Acts 24:15) What a comfort that is for those who lose their loved ones in death during this turbulent time!