Friday, March 30, 2018

Death and dying (heavy)

Trying to write down some deep heavy thoughts with constant commentary about creatures in my ear.

I was thinking a lot about this topic yesterday and planned to write about it today if I could recall my thoughts, with it not even registering initially that today is Good Friday in the west (1 week later for us). So, these are everyday thoughts, but also tie in to the Crucifixion.

Death as a taboo?

As I mentioned previously, our church sermon last Sunday was about taboo topics, one of them being death. But after thinking about it, I realized that there are a few different conditions here. When a tragic event happened earlier this week, I didn't have words to express my sadness. But was it because it was a "taboo" and I was embarrassed to talk about it? I did try to bring it up in a few contexts, but ultimately I decided that some things can't always be expressed in words. And since it wasn't my loss (I didn't know any of the victims), it wasn't necessary to the healing process for me to talk about it or reach out to the relatives. I think it would be different if it were my own loss and I needed to process it, or if my friend lost someone and I needed to initiate the conversation to help that person heal.

So if it's okay to mourn with or without words, what makes it a taboo topic? I think the two hard parts are: 1) how they died and 2) what happens next.

And it is actually pretty hard to write about!

I think the main question bothering me was:

If a person suffers at the end of life, does it overshadow the good in his/her life?

I know the "right" answer should be OF COURSE NOT. But it is one thing to say and another to believe it is true.

-When small children die painfully (thinking of the fire victims), is it possible to put aside that event and remember instead the light that they brought into someone's life? I follow a woman on Instagram whose 20 month old drowned. That was a year ago and Sophia is 20 months old now! This woman is still grieving, of course. But she posts photos every day of her little boy, and I think it's safe to say they are thankful for him having been in their lives.

-When an adult lives a long life and suffers at the end, is it possible to get past that and remember the good times and the fruit that the Lord brought out of this life? I want to say yes, during and after this person's lifetime. When you read an obituary, the cause of death is hardly mentioned and you hear all about lifetime achievements, descendants, and sometimes hobbies or other joys that the person got out of life. But that is an outside perspective, and even a few months of suffering can create a bubble of grief that makes it hard to focus on everything that came before. It is there, somewhere...maybe the perspectives just take turns coming to the surface.

-Does the brutality of Christ's death overshadow His ministry? Of course we would say no to that also, because we know it is the right answer...but also because we know that His death was not in vain. Why this way, God? We only know that it was His plan. And I also think of Christ's loved ones-His family members, disciples, friends...faithful, but heartbroken. We know that many of them went on serving Him for the rest of their lives. But how much did the memory of His death affect them, I wonder?

Despite feeling grieved about suffering, I don't believe in ending one's life to escape from it all, or aborting an unborn baby who might end up with a lower "quality of life." A few years ago I remember that "death with dignity" was a hot topic, in the context of whether euthanasia should be legal. I know there are some logical arguments to support this, but in my convictions I just do not agree with it. I think that death is a taboo topic because it is just plain ugly. And there isn't any way around that. But I don't think that means we have to talk about it constantly or force people to focus on it when they're not in a certain frame of mind. It has to be talked about, but life has to be talked about too!


As far as what happens next, I am not so worried as I know I will be with Jesus. I can't really fathom what that will be like, and the unknown scares me sometimes. But I believe we are to take comfort in that "no longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him." Rev. 22:3

That was the best I could do with multiple interruptions.

1 comment:

  1. I put together an in-service on death for teens. They asked me to do it, of course, because they figured I'd been there and back dealing with Ilya's death. I was actually gratified to be asked, and did feel that possibly I had a better place to start from than I would have had a few years previously. One thing that did come from my extra thought related to that project, is that death is much more of a taboo topic now than it was even 100 years ago.... In those days people often died at home (and younger people died more often) and the dead were laid out at home. Maybe the more distant the process has become from daily life, the more taboo it has become.... And then, it is a mystery. We may have faith, but it rests on hope, not experience. But, I really do think that the biggest issue is that we're afraid of "saying the wrong thing". We don't want to make people feel worse. And, more and more I have noticed all of these articles that exacerbate this natural concern by listing "What Not To Say..." Those are really crazy-making because when the time comes, you don't recall the details of the article, only that there are lots of ways to go wrong. I don't think anyone could have said anything to me that could have made me feel worse - and any honest response was appreciated. But I have run across people who, even in their grief, did find the energy to judge people's comments. So, I guess you do have to be careful.


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