Part 1 of this “mini-series” is here.
It’s almost laughable, really. In a world where so many ethnicities have come together to prove like never before that no two people or cultures are the same, you’d think that we’d be looking for commonalities.
Isn’t it easier to talk to people about things you have in common? Mutual friends, similar experiences, places you’ve both visited?
But what do I have in common with my Muslim neighbour who moved here from Turkey a year ago and is just learning english? Very little. But some things stretch beyond culture, place of birth and age. And there is one thing more certain than taxes.
And yet it’s the greatest taboo of our society. We just cannot find a way to come to terms with our own mortality. If one person starts to talk about death, people give it a little awkward chuckle and then change the subject or say something like, “c’mon, you’re not going to die.” Even in my own house, when my mom starts to talk about her life insurance policy and what will happen if she dies, I get uncomfortable and think: “Stop talking about that… you’ve got a ton of time left.”
Of course, she doesn’t. Neither do I. Nowhere in the Bible or anywhere else are we promised another year, month, week, day, or breath. But we assume. We assume that we’ll be here till we’re 80. And even then people will cry at our funerals and wonder how this tragedy could’ve happened.
One thing I must make clear is that death is a tragedy and was never a part of the original creation. It is the ultimate consequence for sin and one day we will all be resurrected from death to die no more.
That being said, we’re not there yet. One day I will die. You will die. And between now and then you and I will both probably experience great pain. We will both probably get very sick. We’ll probably even get wrinkles and start to shrink. Pain and sickness are both reminders that this life is not it. We will die — that much is unavoidable.
But in a culture where looking fit, healthy and youthful (the denial of the onset and imminence of death?), people don’t want to think about — much less talk about — death and dying. And pain before death becomes in reality a fate worse than death itself.
Why can’t we talk about death? Why do we act like modern science has somehow failed us everytime an 80+ year old great-grandparent “passes away”? Why are we forced to use euphemisms like “passed away” to say that someone died?
Maybe it’s kind of the same reason why we can’t talk about spiritual things? Maybe it’s because it inevitably brings up the topic of the afterlife and the real point of this life. Personally, I feel like the church has really dropped the ball here and become like the rest of our culture.
We need to be people who are open and honest about dying. A people who talk-straight to others about their own mortality and who are honest with them about what they can expect if they are outside Christ when they do finally die.
It used to be (or so I hear) that Christians were the ones who knew how to die well… it made us stand out. Now, we’re just as into the euphemisms as anyone else. We even cling to vain hopes that “maybe all good people will still go to heaven one day” just like the rest of the world. If Christians can’t talk about death with unwavering hope and faith, why should anyone else?