It is a surprise that death surprises us. Maybe it’s the fact that we will never experience the company of the deceased. Maybe it’s the fact that all the plans and hopes we had in the departed will never materialise. Maybe it’s the loneliness and the fear that the future will be bleak without them. Maybe it’s a combination of all of them.
On the other hand of shock and sorrow, lies the mystery of death. the dead close their eyes (or have them closed for them) on this side, but what lies beyond? Religion tells us that there are two other worlds: A heaven/paradise/aljanah for those who lived good lives (according to their religions); and a hell of fire for the torture and eternal damnation of those who lived evil, immoral lives (including those who lived in willful ignorance of God.
Science would tell us that death is simply the absence of life- and that no life exists beyond the body. Thus, once the breath and neural activity ceases, the person simply ends. Death is therefore a sleep of unknowingness, a raging void. Not an empty space (for that would imply matter beyond the physical, temporal world), but a nothingness. Death would be a rest from life’s worries, a peace that neither the living nor a deceased can experience and tell.
If either of the two views is correct, then sorrow for the dead is pointless. IF there is a heaven, then the good people are resting. IF there is nothing beyond this life, then death is truly a rest from life’s worries. IF death is a gateway to a world that is neither heaven nor nothingness, but a birth, a re-incarnation to start again, then sorrow for the dead is pointless.
It is merely an emotional reaction, an illogical reaction to a process we cannot control. We cannot breathe life into the dead, except by supernatural means which our logical minds insistently deny. We cannot by thinking, wishing, hoping or fighting restore them to life; definitely not our tears will bring them back.
The stark reality is that death can meet us anywhere, sometimes in the most ironic of situations. The first man to survive a fall down the Niagara Falls…ironically died when he slipped on an orange pill at home. A woman who had a dream that she’d be killed in an accident stayed at home…where a lorry lost control, crashed into her house and killed her right there.
Sometimes, death is slow and painful- we know it’s coming, we try our best to prolong the hours we have left to share with the dying. We place them on life support, even though we know that they’re lifeless, simply because we hope against hope that something will change, that somehow whatever’s taking their lives will give it back. Sometimes we see medical miracles, mostly we don’t.
So how do we deal with the pain of loss? How do we enjoy the memory of our Departed Ones without letting the hurt choke us and weigh us down? I don’t know how you deal with that, but for me, it’s as simple as reminding myself that my sorrow will not bring them back.
I also remind myself that while I honour the dead, I must not be stuck on the pain. Instead I Celebrate the greatness their lives stood for. I look at what they were able to achieve in such a short time, I look back at the great times we had together. IF you know me well, you’ll see that I have this habit of taking photos of everyone and everything (and weirdly I don’t appear in mine). Not that I expect people to die, but I envisage a time when all I’ll have are memories. Like If I’m in a different country from the rest.
I take my time to celebrate the living, because it is the living that have hope. It is the living that can amend their ways. It is the living that can build on the lessons of the past. Wherever one of us stops, the rest must continue and they must make sure the others who have died…did not waste their efforts.
This is where I “spoil” a majorly philosophical, unreligious piece: Killing Death. Because I believe in Jesus, the eternal hope of resurrection, I face death unflinchingly. Daily I remind myself that I could die today. Perhaps not overtly, but when I talk with people and see that I have hurt them, I rush to make amends immediately. My Bible tells me, “Follow Peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see God”.
I take it literally that there exists a world beyond what I can see; I believe that Miracles do happen, and are a testimonial that there exists a being that really looks out for us all. I believe there is a Plan for my life; the fact that things are chaotic sometimes does not make that plan any less real, or accurate. I believe, by faith and by personal experience that this unseen, immeasurable, unquestionable yet all-powerful being is God and that He is Knowable. I know because I talk to Him and He talks back to me. I know because I ask even the most ridiculous things and they happen with incredible speed. I know because the things he’s said through fellow believers who died thousands of years ago still come to pass in my own generation. I know because the Bible remains unshakeable and true.
I have a hope that beyond this world, there is a place where I’ll reap the rewards of the good I do; I believe that to get there I must live by the rules of Him who made THAT place. Those who believe there is no God, or no Afterlife must be prepared to deal with the consequences of “discovering” after death, that there IS a God, there IS a heaven, and there IS a way of getting there. If I die and I “discover” that there is no heaven, I will have lost nothing by living a good life here on earth.
I will exchange all hollow lies for this one hope, that I will see My Saviour, Jesus Christ; That I will laugh with Carler, Rejoice, TK, Blessing, Dorcas, Mary, Glo-B, Lawrence, Ugochi…and with everyone who had the privilege of tasting glory before me.
Death will not be an excruciating procedure- It will simply be a servant, a Concierge that carries my luggage while I check into Heavenly Homes. When I cross that narrow sea, When I pass through the curtain, I will be in a place where death will have no power over me. I have identified with the one who conquered death, therefore death is no longer master but slave.
When I die, I implore you all, do not stand at my grave and weep. If possible, do not place a tombstone; do not write any epitaphs- for sorrow over me will be pointless. I will have translated from this ephemeral realm to the REAL world; I will have exchanged this mortal, fragile body for an eternal one where I will know no pain.
I have Killed Death