Death is the most radical manifestation of human brokenness, and it leaves an indelible mark on each of our psyche when family members and friends depart, some gradually others suddenly, reminding us inevitably of our own temporal journey. In fact, the world media keeps harping on it daily in more depressing tunes and horrifying briefs. To say that we do not have sufficient time to befriend death is a misnomer, as most of us have a lifetime to embrace it. How we process it would depend on our willingness to confront our own mortality, at times encumbered by our cultural mores and blindspots, and the depth of our faith in God. Jesus comforted His disciples after sharing about His impending death, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4).
Walter Scott: “Death – the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.”
In many cultures, a lot more time and expense are taken up on their journeys with death; after all, these rituals are principally for the living. However, it is not unusual nowadays to get over the funeral rites as quickly as possible, and burying ourselves immediately back into work, barely coping in death’s face. But as Christians, its morbidness is more perceived than real, as this celebrative faith journey leads us literally into life eternal in the presence of our Creator. However, the palpable physical loss of loved ones cannot be minimized, with grieving as an earthly bereavement process becoming a necessary healing process. Not being able to say the normal ‘farewells’ inevitably traumatizes and complicates it. Perhaps Paul’s own perceptive choice is exemplary for us in our sojourn here until our call to return home comes round: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (Phil1: 21 – 24).
Mother Theresa: “Death is nothing else but going home to God, the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity.”
My mother and a few others who had preceded us are frequently on my mind, and inquisitively, my questions revolve around how and what they are doing? And what does it look like where they are? Scripture is vague, but one day, our curiosity will have its answers. Suffice to know that this exciting journey will end with immense grace hidden in our powerlessness. The Apostle John saw it and described it, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Rev 21: 1 – 5).