Another link in the chain has moved on: my mother died in July. We have held the grave-side memorial, and Buddhist prayer ceremony hosted by my sisters. I have said the Mourner's Prayer, Kaddish, for her with my congregation, which is what Jewish practice teaches me. Unlike other deaths of loved ones I have experienced, my mother's passing is completed and she does not speak to me from the other side. I believe she was really finished with this realm and do not believe in reincarnation or karmic return. I do not believe in afterlife having anything to do at all with the physical body.
I define faith in the most existential terms, which is to say that it is the opposite of knowing and therefore contains doubt and anxiety. I have faith that my mother's soul has been restored to God and that gives me comfort and peace. But while I do not have belief in any revisiting of the soul in another sentient form, I do believe my ancestors are here in a physical way, in my own blood and DNA, as well as particles of the very stardust that makes the earth. That feels like the truth to me, like enough for me.
I think faith is a beautiful thing, "knowing" is something that is dangerous. Those who know the "truth," who hold their own truth as the truth for all, frighten me with their certainty. All too often their certainty is backed up by their violence.