Grieving Christians

IMG_7111My parents believed in bringing us to funerals. So at young ages, my siblings and I saw a lot of grieving families, heard homilies, eulogies, and a couple of us even rode in the hearse with the funeral director from the church to the grave (only when Dad did the service). One of my earliest funeral memories is being in line to view a body. I was so short that my eyes were below casket level, and I did not want to be picked up. It seemed off to me that adults would stand in line to see a corpse. Continue reading

Infant Graves

lily of the valley 2“[N]ever better, than at the grave of those little ones do you understand that quiet disappearing, the snatching away of the fieldflower in the grass… just lifting up its colourful little head above that grass. And the wind came from the desert, carrying the breath of death. And under that touch it succumbed. The little head bent itself; the colours paled; the forms melted. And so it disappeared, to leave behind nothing but a hovering image, and round about it memories at play…

It was a coming to go; an appearing to disappear. And so they die away by the hundreds and thousands, those little darlings, known of God, but passed unnoticed by men… The dying of these little ones is therefore so rich in significance; you miss so much, when you pass lightly over their mysterious disappearing. Continue reading

Fall Trees

Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about old age and dying. Part of that is because we were recently visiting my parents and my mother, a palliative care nurse, has a lot to say about what the end of life looks like. It’s not pretty. There’s a lot of regret, a lot of brokenness, a lot of sin.

During the visit, I went to the park with an old family friend. “You know,” she said, looking at the fall colours, “I think that we’re like trees. We have these covers, these screens that we put up for people to see, and they can be spectacular. But then, at the end, it all drops away, and what we really are is left in the open. Just like the trunks and branches of these trees.”
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Resources on Grief

Al Martin’s book, Grieving, Hope, and Solace, is a helpful book in dealing with loss of a loved one. Coming out of his grief after the death of his first wife, it is a biblical aid in dealing with deep mourning.

Death in the Home is B. M. Palmer’s account of the deaths in his own home: daughters, wife, mother-in-law. Each death is different, and so his response to each is different, offering varied views of his response to varied experiences of mourning. It is also helpful in giving direction to someone caring for someone who is dying. Continue reading

Are You Ready?

A while ago, I was sitting in a waiting room, waiting to see my doctor. I didn’t know what was making me sick, but understood that it could be something serious. It turned out to be minor, but I realized anew that, unless I die suddenly or the Lord returns first, I will at some point recieve a diagnosis that will signal the end of my life. It’s just a matter of time.

My mother works as a nurse at an end of life care facility, looking after people who have only days to live. Most of them have not lived in a way that makes it easy to die. Continue reading

“Death, thou shalt die”

“‘O death, I will be thy plagues.’ (Hosea 13:14) Disease brings death, and the grave destroys. But here God promises a radical reversal. Death will be diseased and the grave will be destroyed. Israel’s enemies will themselves be defeated and Israel will be released.

Paul borrows this language and the principle behind it to anticipate the ultimate victory of the Christian over death: Continue reading