Death isn’t an easy topic for our culture. Occasionally we see old school churches with the creepy graveyard in the back but not anymore. We have neatly separated life and death. We put our cemeteries in distant places behind ornate gates and tall trees. As kids we held our breath passing them…just in case…
Did you know that up until about 100 years ago, it would be the family members and friends who cared for the deceased body? Yep. Now, we have the mortician come take the body, spruce him or her up, and neatly separate the messiness of death for us. Perhaps we are missing part of the grieving process? More so, I believe it simply helps us separate life and death even more. Truthfully, I just don’t think we can separate life and death.
I worked at the hospital all summer and am now working as a chaplain intern at hospice. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve ministered to patients who just found out they had cancer. “Will I live to walk my daughter down the isle?” I’ve heard the anxious family members’ concern for their loved one who was having open-heart surgery. “It’s a risky surgery. What happens if my husband dies on the table?” I’ve even had the chance to be with the friends and family of patients who have died. 17-year-old boy who drowned. “He was such a wonderful young man.” 30-year-old woman who died from AIDS. “She lived a hard life.” 86-year-old man who died of heart failure. “53 years ago he proposed to me…today.” Those are just a few of the deaths I’ve witnessed this summer. Now at hospice, death is really all around me. Our motto: “It’s about how you live.” I wrote a poem a few posts ago. One line says, “So here’s to…learning to confront death everyday and valuing life all the more on the way.”
I think I’ve figured out part of my purpose here on earth: how to live—and abundantly at that. Confronting death (almost on a daily basis), I am seeking the question, “How do I want to live?” Under the tab About Bird’s Nest, I sum up what this blog is about. Please take a look—because I really think it explains where I’m at in life right now.
Ok, this may be overwhelming…given that death is messy and mysterious and because it is not neat and simple we want to forget about it until it hits close to home. I suppose this post is to get us more comfortable thinking about death and talking about it. If you have some weird fascination with death like I do or even get freaked out at the mere mention of “death,” perhaps future blogs will interest you.
More to come on this topic: 1. Death and spirituality, 2. No regrets: perspective, relationships, living, & 3. Seeking, “How do we live in light of death?”