As a society, we typically steer away from the topic of death. Watching a TV programme this morning, the characters kept talking about the father ‘having left’ when finally one character said, ‘He’s died.’ More often, we use the euphemism of ‘passed away’. Death, St. Paul says, is the final enemy that will be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26), and in that we need not fear it. At the same time we can acknowledge the finality of it and the sorrow it brings. Paul doesn’t tell us not to mourn, but to mourn as those who have hope in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We have faith in a God who raises the dead.
In that, we need to become more comfortable with those who are dying and live through it with them. The church can play a vital role in this for those who may be reflecting on their life (memories, regrets, or anything). Also, to hear their difficult questions about what may happens after death. These aren’t always comfortable situations, but it is important to listen. We also need to learn how to talk with those who are grieving and learn that most of the time, we don’t need to talk at all.
Today, Tony Bonser, a friend from my former church in Gregson Lane, posted a video where he talks briefly about the final days of his son. It’s part of an initiative by Dying Matters, ‘which aims to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards death, dying and bereavement.’ Their tag line is simple, ‘Let’s talk about it.’ I had never heard of it before. A quick look shows some good resources and support on their website. I hope this will be a challenge to us in the church to talk about this more as well. Here’s Tony’s video – well done. I know you and your family still miss Neil a lot, and thank you for helping others with your own experience.