Life, it’s a tenuous thing. One day you’re a kid playing kick the can with your neighborhood friends, the next you are graduating college and planning a wedding. Before you know it, you are married with three kids and a mortgage to boot. Within the blink of an eye, those kids are graduating, leaving home and you are left with smile lines and some well-earned wrinkles. Eventually, grandkids come along, and hopefully, some travel gets sprinkled in too. Life starts to slow down or does it actually speed up? I guess it is a mix of both. Aches and pains show up where once there were none. Thoughts go to the past and how quickly it has all gone by. Treasured memories are replayed in our minds and regrets are contemplated as well. Time is rapidly ticking away as questions turn to, “What did I do with this one life of mine?” and “Where am I headed after this life?” It can be a whole roller coaster of emotions. Life and death: what a wild combination.
That is the funny thing about life. You can only have it knowing that death is a part of the deal. You don’t get to have one without the other. I have been thinking a lot about death lately. I know that may seem strange and even a little depressing, but it is something we recently faced as a family. My mother-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago after a long battle with multiple illnesses. It was sad to say goodbye, even though we knew it was time. Despite seeing death coming, it is still somehow shocking in the end. It is a true wake-up call and one that isn’t messing around. It is final, period. You have to face it and you have to deal with it. There is no way around it, no matter how hard you try.
Over the years, I have experienced quite a bit of death within my family. Many of my family members, whom I loved deeply, passed away much too young. They were the hardest ones to let go of, as you can imagine. But the ones who made it to an older age, the ones who lived a long life were tough too. Thankfully, and I truly mean this, I have been blessed to witness three of these loved ones take their last breath and make the transition from this world to another. Each has been an absolutely spiritual experience. This is the best way I can think to describe it. Obviously, the first time I witnessed a family member pass away it was a bit scary, but that was only because of all the unknowns. What will it look like? What should I expect? Will I have to watch them in pain?
What I can share with you, is that all three times have been incredibly moving and profound. Being with a loved one, holding their hand, thanking them for all they have done for you as they settle into letting go of life is a TRUE GIFT. It is a sincere honor and a blessing. If you ever get the opportunity to be with a loved one when they pass, don’t be afraid to do it. You will never regret it. In those sacred moments, all of the day-to-day stuff just disappears. Your mind is fully focused on that person. You will consider what they have meant to you, how you will miss them, how they have loved you, and also how you have loved them. It is a time for reflection, tears, and prayer. A time for quiet and contemplation— a time for God.
Questions will stir.
Why is death so hard? When will my own time be up? What do I want my life to represent? Where will I go once I die? Will I go to Heaven? Will my loved one go to heaven? What does Heaven look like?
So many questions, especially about a topic so many of us rarely discuss. Sure, when someone dies, we tell people we are sorry, and we are, but that is about as far as the conversation goes. We avoid the topic of death because it is not fun, it isn’t easy and in fact, it can be scary. Death is coming for all of us one day. God gives life and God takes it away. We can’t run from it or hide. It finds us eventually.
In the end, we take nothing and no one with us.
What I have learned from all of this…the only thing we truly have when death comes knocking is our relationship with God—or lack thereof. We better nurture that relationship now. We better pay attention to it. We better praise Him above anyone or any other thing. We better know Jesus and know how He sacrificed for us.
Life and death: what a wild combination. It is easy to get caught up in the life stuff and push the death stuff to the side, but as my father always says, “None of us knows the day, or the hour when our time on earth will be up.”, so we best be ready for it.
P.S.- Here are some Bible verses referring to death to get you thinking about that relationship with the Big Guy upstairs. (Who loves you so much by the way!) https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/death-bible-verses/