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The sting of death always hurtsPosted Friday, October 3, 2008, at 8:54 AM
"For the living know that they will die...." Ecclesiastes 9
For the third time in the last 14 months, our family got a shocking telephone call on Wednesday evening from out of town explaining to us about the death of another relative from the same family.
The latest to pass away was my first cousin, Sharon, who lived in Indianapolis. She was five years my elder, but in my mind too young to be struck down by a heart attack.
The voice on the other end of the telephone line uttered a familiar refrain when they asked, "Are you sitting down?"
The news she delivered was again shocking.
I had heard the same conversation not long ago.
Just seven months earlier, the caller's brother died unexpectedly from complications associated with diabetes and heart disease.
She called and told me her brother, Bob, was found seriously ill in his Columbus, Ohio apartment.
He died a day later.
A friend from my boyhood was gone.
About seven months earlier, the family buried their mother, who was my aunt.
She was a very strong woman who had seen three of her children and her husband die before her passing. She was a gem of a lady who helped my Mom and I out tremendously over the years after my adopted Dad died of a heart attack when I was just five years old. She was there for us often and I really never got to properly thank her for all the kind things she did to ease the pain I experienced by not having a Dad when I grew up.
This family from Perry County in southern Indiana has been unusually hit hard by death even though my late Uncle Bob, who was a pharmacist and had access to the latest in technology and medical discoveries couldn't stop three of his children and himself from being stricken with heart-related problems.
It was genetics.
Out of the family of six children -- five have now died. The only remaining sibling is my cousin, Kathy, who delivered the telephone call the other night.
Death is a very mysterious thing.
When you've had someone that you love recently pass, it makes you ponder not only the remorse you feel for the loved one and their surviving family, but death itself and what it truly means.
My heart and prayers go out to my cousin Kathy. She needs to be wrapped with the strength of prayer and God's love as she prepares to make the arrangements to bury her fourth sibling.
When you are 55 years old and growing older every day like me, all this talk about death and dying makes me really think about what is left to do on this earth before I venture on to a "better place" in the hereafter.
I think a lot of people -- like me -- are scared of death because they are scared of the unknown.
The point is that one day you will die, and I will die, the veil of this world will be lifted.
In our society, many people tend to avoid talking about death.
After someone you care about dies, many people feel they need to move on with life as usual as soon as possible, and that grief is something to be kept hidden from view.
That's probably not a healthy or productive thing to do.
It's okay and natural to grieve.
It's a time when we need to reflect on death, our life and prepare ourselves spiritually to answer the call when that day comes.
Death is hard for everyone.
As joyous as it is to know a person has been born into eternal life, it is with many tears we fill the void the person has left in our life.
It's tough to let loved ones go.
It's hard to know that another member of your family will never again be able to share a holiday, a wedding, a birth, or a simple afternoon with you just talking about old times.
Family is important and probably even more important and precious to us when it is gone. In times like death we reflect on the fellowship we missed -- an experience that can never be renewed.
There are things we should have said, but didn't.
That's what really hurts.
All the things that seem so important now to us, won't be important in our next life.
We all really need to consider what is important and what is simply a waste of our time. Death brings us a perspective on life, it shows us what is vital and what is worthless.
Christianity teaches us to not fear death because it is where the soul of the departed is reunite with our Savior in heaven.
If we believe that in our heart and soul, then death is a day of joy, celebration and jubilation, but not sorrow.
The fact remains, our loved ones will die, we will grow old, and no one here is going to get out alive.
Nonetheless, the sting of death still hurts.
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