Life Considered Through Death

My class took a field trip to a local funeral home today. If you are in need of a funeral home, I recommend OakCrest in Waco. Ask for Dr. Moshinskie. I would like to put the ‘fun’ in funeral, but there is often not much fun in funerals. Even the most upbeat and hopeful funeral includes grief. Grief is loss, not necessarily death. To be honest, I had mixed feelings including a little anxiety about today’s field trip. I am still in the process of processing some grief, and death in general is typically an uncomfortable topic. All the more reason to learn, discuss, and plan! A few observations:

 

As Brené Brown says, leaning into discomfort is part of wholehearted living. My vocation requires that I have some sort of handle on death and grief. The truth is, many clergy are just as concerned about death as anyone else, and they grieve just as much as anyone else. Yet, somehow we are asked to guide others through grief. How is this possible? Only by the Holy Spirit’s strengthening & supplying of wisdom, and Divine channeling of Love. Be patient with your clergy, they love God and you.

 

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us… And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. [1 John 4:12-13, 17-18]

 

One of the points that came up many times was the need to talk about death. When death is taboo to discuss, there is a “closed system”. The vast majority of people live in a closed system. Who wants to bring up the often painful topic of death that is full of unknown, grief, loss of control, mystery, regret, etc.? When death can be openly discussed, there is an “open system”. Though an open system is less common, it is healthier. When Brené Brown talks about shame, she says that the less you talk about it, the more you have it. Shame is the belief that something is inherently wrong with yourself. Embarrassment is believing that something is wrong about the situation. Shame is deeper & more personal. Perhaps there is some shame in death. There may be shame that I cannot make myself well or shame that I did not make amends with my loved one when I could face to face. Is it possible that shame is a kind of death in that shame kills security and a sense of wholeness?

 

Very little in the world is absolute. There is nothing more final than death. Laws can be overturned, criminal sentences appealed, cars repaired, marriages annulled, mulligans in golf. But death.

 

Death is final. Done. Death must be dealt with immediately. The body begins to decay almost immediately. People need to be notified, the death certificate signed, travel arrangements made, planning a burial. Death must be dealt with over time. Allowing church community to help, speaking the deceased’s name, maybe join a support group, remember the annual anniversary of death.

 

When Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that there is nothing new under the sun, perhaps it means that the human condition is not new. People are people- for better or worse- temporary lives on earth to be received & enjoyed. Later, Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest…” Summer is a season. Winter is a season. Anxiety or panic about either benefits no one. Time for birth and death in every life. Embrace it. 

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Chansin
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 10:35:30

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Death is a topic I have avoided most of my life. I’m glad (kind of?) our class is having the opportunity to discuss it.

    PS – I would also recommend Dr. Mo at Oakcrest in Waco!

    Reply

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