The dead are asleep
In this story, the author seems to not fully understand Catholic belief as he writes about the “memorial” service. As Catholics, it’s up to the family do memorial services with eulogies, if it is at the church with the priest presiding, it is a Mass for the dead. There is a very good reason for this, and it is that our faith teaches us we live in Christ even if we die. The sacrifice of a Mass isn’t just a remembrance of things and people gone by, but a promise of meeting them again in the future by our union with Christ, who has already risen from the dead.
St. Paul dealt with the heresy that we aren’t going to live on in his first letter to the church at Corinth, so this is about as old as our faith. It also could be seen in more modern terms as an expression of Materialism, where there is no soul to arise at the end of time. All faith and reason teaches us our souls were made for eternity. At the end of time, we believe everyone will rise up out of their graves. Some will rise up having lived an earthly life desiring communion with God and their friends. These are resurrected to a life of eternal communion (perhaps after grinding off the rough edge of hating one’s enemy by a temporary stay in purgatory). Others dislike the impact their neighbor has on their life, as Sartre wrote “hell is other people”. These will have what their earthy life showed they desired: solitude and lack of communion. Truely being forever alone. This burning loneliness is pictured with fire in our iconographic tradition, but the young kids are using the updated iconography below: