Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
As I walked in the back door of the hospital, and down the hallway to the room were my 91-year-old mother lay dying, I suddenly realized that 62 years ago she had given birth to me in this very building. I passed the small chapel in which in years past, as a nurse, I had prayed with patient’s family members as their loved ones also stood on the precipice of death and a new life.
Death is always ugly; it brings sorrow and grief. And, no matter how much we have prepared ourselves, the experience of bereavement transcends our cognitive experience.
It is said that we become fully human and adult when we touch death. The loss of our parents makes us aware that we too are part of a generation that will die.
Matthew McCullough says, in his book Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope, “ Time and death turn sweet seasons of life into painful memories of what’s been lost.” God blesses us with many brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers — all dear loved ones whose spiritual bond with us will never be severed.
2 Corinthians states that when we die we will be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. There, though disembodied, we are at home with the Lord and friends and relatives as we await our bodily resurrection in the future. Our sorrows at the death of a parent or friend who are believers are joyful sorrows, and our rejoicing at their death is a sorrowful rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 4:16 says “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” Life is hard for many of us having endured adversity and afflictions physically and financially and relationally. This tempts many of us to lose heart, to give up. We have human bodies that age and decay, develop aches and pains. We acquire disease that debilitates, yet the decaying of our body is not meaningless. We are renewed day by day.
Matthew McCullough goes on to say:
“Death is a biological event—the end of the heart’s beating, the lungs’ breathing, and the brain’s processing—but it is also far more. There’s no confining death to the moment at which your life ends. Its effects are everywhere. Death is not so much an event as a process with a final culmination—a siphoning process that separates us from what we love so that, in the end, everyone loses everything. But when we recognize this truth, when we acknowledge it and don’t shrink back from it, we join the path to deeper, fuller joy in the promise of a deathless world where what we love won’t ever pass away, a world promised to us by the one who is the Resurrection and the Life.”