No, I don’t have a terminal illness and as far as I know right now I am in good health but I am going to die one day and this week has brought that reminder to the forefront.
When I told Forest, “I’m pregnant!” He replied, “we need to make a will!”
13 months later we went to the notary office and death shifted from a philosophical idea to an eventual reality. A reality that takes planning and money.
Forest’s badminton coach said, “Too early! Why are you making a will now?”
I would have agreed a couple of years ago. Young people don’t make wills in movies.
Funny how New life promotes preparation for death. More than any money concerns I want to know that my daughter would have a loving home in case we go soon. A bizarre feeling to plan for something that I would never want to happen.
So that was yesterday. Today at my usual joyful mom’s group (think chocolate fondue, growing sprouts, eating cookies, giggles and babies) we had a guest speaker from a hospice come.
The topic was death and grief and how to support someone as they walk through it.
It was certainly a more melancholy tone for our group and I am still feeling sad as I think about the shadowy valleys that I have walked through.
But I am grateful. The speaker described death as the “white elephant in the room” of our society.
The one thing that everyone faces but still feels so wrong.
Suddenly what I am having for dinner doesn’t seem so important. Good thing my husband cooks.
In my last blog I mentioned the loss of my little brother. Actually I have mentioned him in many posts. I keep waiting to “get over it” to have “closure”. One birthday, one Facebook post, one song and then I can move on. Certainly I can live a full life and focus on other things but the pain never completely leaves. I miss him. I miss being a big sister. I miss making him birthday cakes, meeting his girlfriend, giving him hugs, posing in his wedding photo, holding his children. This year will mark his 30th birthday.
As a Christian, I believe in the hope of Heaven and that Jesus graciously embraces the children that leave this earth. That gives me comfort but it doesn’t remove the loss. I celebrate that I will see my little brother again but right now he is not here.
Matthew lived here for only 14 months but the impact that he left on my heart and the hearts of others is eternal.
Death is something that should be talked about. It should not be taboo. The pain should not be hidden behind euphemisms. Death can be ugly, messy and beautiful all at the same time.
Just like birth.
The speaker shared her idea of the two most important questions at life’s end:
Am I loved? Did I love well?
When I provided care as a home support worker I saw many people at life’s end. Their jobs were gone, their ability to travel and study and make love. Their physical appearance drastically altered from youth. All that was left was character and relationships.
And as I held people’s hands and looked in their eyes I saw those two questions. Sometimes there was peace and sometimes fear and sometimes both.
I remember one night thinking about a lady I was being asked to care for the next day. I had never met her but as I anticipated seeing her the words from 1 John kept running through my mind.
“Perfect love casts out fear”. Over and over again. The next morning as I pulled into her driveway a family member met with the news that she had died that night before. Never before or after was I given that verse for a client.
Often I feel fear when thinking about death. Yesterday’s work on our wills prompted a mini life crisis as I lay in bed with my daughter for an afternoon nap.
“What have I accomplished in life? Is my life meaningful enough?” Underneath it all were the questions, Am I loved? Am I loving well?
These questions remind me of Jesus saying Millennia ago,
”Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind… and love your neighbour as yourself” Matthew 22:37
We were created to be loved and to love. It’s in our DNA. The One who breathed life into the world loves perfectly. It is His love that casts out fear. The verse goes on to say “because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19.
I know that I have done things worthy of punishment. Before a perfect God I fall short.
But the love of Jesus drives out fear of punishment. He welcome all who will come to Him.
You are loved. And in His strength you can love well.