It’s that word no one likes to utter or even think about.
The word most of us have experienced through our family or friends and pray to God doesn’t happen to us.
At least not until we’re like 120.
Note: I’ve been sitting with a hospice patient lately (more on that in a future post – many reflections), so this is fresh on my mind and I feel it sets the stage for what I want to talk about later. I know, it’s a weird topic but I like talking about it, so you can just read it and deal, or go read something else. 😉
A lot of people get really uncomfortable even reading the word “death.” It used to horrify me. I would lay awake at night praying because I was so scared that I might die in my sleep and I was terrified about what might come after. A lot of people still feel this way… why do you think we have horror films?
Anyway, I’m not scared anymore. Over the past few years I’ve become a lot more comfortable with “it”… you know, death. In some weird way I almost find it comforting. A couple semesters ago I took a grief and loss class as an elective for my nursing program. It was deep, intense, dark, and sparked some passionately emotional and spiritual discussions. I loved it. I had never really considered what I actually thought about death or what the word/concept/idea made me feel/think. Nor had I ever really discussed this with anyone. Because, well, people don’t talk about it. The only people that really do are those fire & brimstone preachers trying to get their congregations to believe in Jesus for the sake of “fire insurance.”
Anyway, during that class all I thought about was death and what it meant to me. If you hung out with me at all during that time I probably talked to you about it and/or asked you what you were passionate about. You see, to me, death is simple… it will happen. It’s ever-present, ever-near, and we never know when it will come. I could die tomorrow. The real question to me becomes – am I OK with that? Am I the person I want to be mentally/emotionally/spiritually/experientially when I die? If we all look deep inside, we probably have some ideal of who/what we want to be on our deathbeds (you know, when we’re like 120). I thought long and hard about the person I want to be. Wrote it down, actually. In detail. And I figured – if this person I’ve written about is who I really want to be, I’ve got some work to do! I’ve got to get busy living and growing and changing now because I never know when my day will come.
So rather than a dark cloud of tears and black funeral garb, death became to me a motivator. Death is a reason to live. It’s the punctuation at the end of my life and I want to die with an exclamation mark emphasizing a life well-lived, not a “…” trailing off into nothingness. So death now gives me purpose. Without the fact of death, what is there to live for? What we would find to be joyful for? Why would I bask in the beauty of a blizzard, or the delicious chill of a crisp winter morning? What meaning would any of that have if it were to last forever? And really the same applies to pain and sadness… I would never appreciate my “good” days if it weren’t for the crippling ones. I would never know joy if I’d never walked through the depths of depression. So now I live to grow into my death – to become the spiritually rich, confident, hopeful, loving, accomplished woman I want to be on the day the Lord takes me home.
I could write another 10 pages on this topic but I’ll sign off for now.
I’m going to go drink a beer with my husband. Tonight I think I’ll toast to this beautiful day of life my sweet Savior blessed me with — it’s Him above anyone or anything else who gives me reason to look toward, not fear, death.