Prayers and masses for the dead.
Few Protestant seem to realise that one of the tempting "offers" made by the Roman Catholic religion and the Eastern Orthodox religion is the ability to affect the eternal destiny of the dead. This desire runs exceptionally deep in the human heart, soul, spirit and psyche. There are many people who claim their love for the dead runs so deeply, if it was possible, they would trade a place in heaven for one in hell, if it delivered the soul of a departed loved one into Paradise (not that God ever says such a "deal" would or even could be possible, given that we are all sinners) yet most of such people cannot even lay down their pride for the sake of their family, turn, repent, get on the right track with God, and teach their family the true way if salvation while they are on Earth. This strange contradiction is largely explained by the old saying "you do not know what you have got until it is gone" and just how much they loved their mother or father , or some other loved one, does not "hit" them properly until that person dies.
The hope of helping to save the soul of a dead person by some means, by prayers, fasting, supplications, masses, rituals, rites, absolutions, unctions etc is therefore a simply huge seduction to stay in the Orthodox religion, however.... the very fact such temptations are on offer to their flock is a further proof of the Semi-Saviour beliefs of their process of salvation, or synergy of salvation.
A false gospel.
As the true gospel of salvation is in Christ alone, anything affecting salvation to do with prayers for the dead, fasting, supplications, masses, rituals, rites, absolutions, unctions etc etc brings these into the Eastern Orthodox counterfeit false gospel, or process of salvation, so you see the seriousness of this, considering the anathema threat of Galatians 1: 6-9.
Protestant views about the dead.
1) The prayers of the righteous dead are alive today.
If someone prayed as they lay dying that God helps his family, or the poor, or needy etc, or a myriad of other type of prayers, and they die, it is usually the Protestant / Evangelical belief that, when that person dies, their prayers are still able to be answered by God on Earth, and often are. So the idea of "mum is still watching over me" is not true in one way, yet in a less direct way it is, in their living prayers.
2) Can we "help" the dead in Protestant doctrine?
Usually all Protestants (without thinking about this topic much) would immediately answer no to this subject. But consider this..... if you have a righteous mother or father, who is a true Christian, and after they die either
1) Their prayers when alive affect you to a better life now.
2) Your own consideration of their personality, prayer life, glory to God, studies of scripture and bible topics, and even their death, inspire in you to move off in a more positive direction, and help more people (rather than criticize more people) or again affect you to a better life in Christ,
is it not true that both of these things means there is still a connection between you and them, by the outworking of those influences in your life? So if you do better now because of their prayers, or who they were inspiring in you good things, that means fruit in your life is partly a fruit of their life too. Thus your respect for them can mean a fruit (not works but a fruit) can be attributed to them by God in that final day. Saying this is not an attempt to allow you to pass works you have done over to them, that would be incorrect (and works do not save any way) but it is nevertheless true that fruit from their life can manifest in your life. This can bring healing to souls mourning for the dead, and means in Protestantism and Evangelical beliefs there are still spiritually living connections between you and the dead.
In Protestantism however, most agree you cannot pray for the dead as if to affect their salvation, as God declares himself a kind and compassionate God, and as he is all knowing and all seeing he does not need "reminders" from us to be kind.