Of Death and Life

When I got to the office yesterday I dashed across the street to a rehab facility in search of information about the passing of one of my members. He had been very ill, but only somewhat affected by dementia, not always happy, but always interesting to visit with. Now he was gone. I am hoping for word from one of his daughters or even his ex-wife about funeral arrangements. Even if nothing is forthcoming from them, the church family needs a chance to say good bye, and we will provide it.

Death is an interesting thing. Ten days ago in a visit with this man he had told me about a dream he dreamt the night before. When he was done I had the distinct feeling that in his dream he had been seeing through the veil, partly in this world and partly in another. On a previous visit he had lamented, “I don’t want to die.” I replied, “Then don’t.” After the dream he seemed more at ease with himself, and made an oblique comment that he was “ready.” Obviously he was.

Tragic death comes upon us at the hand of accident, disease or unwise violence. In Spanish, el buen morir, (the Good Death) is embraced, chosen because by the cosmic powers it is the right time, place or moment. Funeral services for a Good Death give voice to the sorrow and celebrate the nobility. Funeral services for a bad death give voice to the sorrow and also the rage. Both ought to end in hope, but it’s much harder with a bad death.

Death becomes the measure of life: A world in which death is good is a good world to live in.

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