I've been to two Roman funerals recently. At both I've been struck by the priest praying for the dead person and telling the congregation to pray for the dead, too. If we go to God at death to begin our "life" with God then why would the dead need our prayers? Is God so busy that God can't pay attention to our Uncle Freddy unless we remind Him? I don't have a missal for the Roman Catholic church in my study nor could I find online the liturgy I heard.
I am a Protestant and this shows in my remarks. I like the way the II Helvetic Confession says of death, " THE BURIAL OF BODIES :
THE CARE FOR THE DEAD. On the other hand, we do not approve of those who are overly and absurdly attentive to the deceased; who, like the heathen, bewail their dead (although we do not blame that moderate mourning which the apostle permits in I Thess. 4:13, judging it to be inhuman not to grieve at all); and who sacrifice for the dead, and mumble certain prayers for pay, in order by such ceremonies to deliver their loved ones from the torments in which they are immersed by death, and then think they are able to liberate them by such incantations.
5.237 , and,
THE STATE OF THE SOUL DEPARTED FROM THE BODY. For we believe that the faithful, after bodily death, go directly to Christ, and, therefore, do not need the eulogies and prayers of the living for the dead and their services. Likewise we believe that unbelievers are immediately cast into hell from which no exit is opened for the wicked by any services of the living.
5.238 (from http://index.pcusa.org/NXT/gateway.dll/confessions/title00000.htm/confession00001.htm?f=templates$fn=default.htm$vid=default$3.0)
I like it that our theology teaches that the dead go to be with God and are therefore in God's loving care. We need not worry about the dead anymore. No more pain, no more infirmity, no more misery.
How would praying for the dead make any difference? Is their eternity not secure? If it isn't would our prayers be the deciding factor for any improvement?
If we are in the habit of praying for a very ill person to be relieved from pain and the person dies, then it comforts me to know that I need not worry about the person being in pain ever again.