On Death and Dying

In recent days and weeks, a dark ribbon of strangeness has circled our lives–Jerry’s and mine, (as it has some of yours) but then perhaps it is not strange, for now we are older, and is it not common among older folk that friends and relatives suffer and sicken, even to the point of death? But today came word of the fatal accident of a younger one, a grown child of a friend of ours, and while we were in the Bay Area last week, we learned of one of Jerry’s young colleagues who has announced to his church that cancer has invaded his lymph system. Yesterday drove the funeral procession of a minister who long years ago was a part of our church in Garden Grove; next Thursday is a funeral for a minister we have known for decades, and on Friday a memorial service will flare tribute to one of our dearest friends, also a minister. For years he and Jerry served on church organizational boards. They assisted with the production of innumerable conferences, seminars and evangelistic meetings. Our children attended youth camps at the same time, and more than once our families played and vacationed together.
Too soon, it seems, our journey here is over. With notable exception we shrink from death, sparing our minds and emotions, guarding our health, obeying the doctor, swallowing our pill, hoping to push away the inevitable. It’s a strange thing, this reaction to death among believers, for do we not expect life after death to be beautiful, to be perfect, to be lived in the presence of God? Perhaps it is the going, the crossing, the wide river; and though we have faith in God and in His Word, there is decided mystery that envelops the traveler.  “Aloneness” beyond comprehension is his wrap, his tightly pulled cloak.  Contrary from  birth and its silver promise is this leaden finality, the finality of death. Neither in the dying room, nor in hospital chambers are balloons or banners or celebration. Elated faces are not seen.  “Death is never pretty,” one of my wise sons reminded me yesterday.
Business. Is our business finished? Should we not live every day so that at the morning and at the evening we may ask The Question; Am I ready?  Are my affairs in order? For be assured, there is no defeating death, there is no holding back the pale. No bloodied limb can stay his progress, no strength or brawn will prevail. With sure hand, he raps the door of both the pauper and of the king. Pray our leaving is with joy.
There is a strange sort of separation and quiet as a person lies dying: I’ve been near a few who wrangled with death. Giftings are gone. Power has eluded the hand. As though encased in thickened glass, the leaving is done. The earthy is finished. The eternal is.

9 thoughts on “On Death and Dying

  1. Wow…a VERY stirring post, indeed. Thank you. I think I should read this often so I am “jerked into what is real and eternal” a lot. Honestly, if I read this every day…I’m thinking I may live my a little differently… sigh…

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  2. Nita

    Your posting reminds of the song,”only one life and soon it will pass, only whats done for Christ will last, so live for Jesus while you may, its the only choice to make, when you recall-we have but one life”. Thanks for the remimder of keeping our life in order. I am sorry for your great loss. Thankful for the peace of God.

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  3. Shirley,

    The primary reason why so many people fear death and struggle to avoid it is that organized religion has offered only a very humdrum heaven and horrific hell. That humdrum heaven — floating around on clouds, strumming harps, praising God 24/7 — doesn’t sound very appealing to most people There have been many communications from the spirit world as to what it is really like, but orthodox calls all such communication as demonic out of fear that it will conflict with established dogma and doctrine.

    Mike, welcome to my blog. I’m traveling–have very poor internet–so must respond briefly at the moment. I will comment more later…as you can imagine, we are in a bit of disagreement. 🙂

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  4. Michelle Boso

    OMG–Sis. Buxton–I thought I was the only one going through this!!! You worded it perfect!!! “A Dark Ribbon of strangeness has circled our lives.” For Me–We have had 8 deaths since the end of SEPT–(6 of them are personal to me in one way or another: 1) My best friend’s Nephew was shot to death in Mexico by the Drug Cartel (he was an inicent victim)–2)My Best friend’s son (one of our Youth-25 yrs old) died of Pancreatitis—3) our Friend Bro. Dave Simpson died in a car accident—4)one of the paulbears from # 2’s funeral was shot & killed by San Bernardino Police–5) MY GRANDMA, she just gave up after an 8 yr battle of a stroke & she quit eating—6) My Bishop, Elder Reece(My first Pastor) of Alzhimers (and his wife is on hospise right now)— 7) A young man who lived with a Sis. in our church (23 yrs old) was joking around & shot himself (in front of her 3 Boys in the bedroom of her home)—8) a man who had attended our church a few times–was shot and killed this week—this has all happened since Sept.—-so when I saw your post I was like WOW!!! I am not the only one going through this!!

    Keep the faith, my dear. We rest easy in the hands of God. Death is just a part of life–a mysterious part.

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  5. The following also were first posted on Facebook.

    1. JeffandNancy Oliver so much to ponder.. been thinking …. life is a vapor

    It is a vapor…at once seems so long…then it is over…

    2. S.k. McDaniel Sis Buxton this comes on a day when a good friend of ours (42 years old) passed away unexpectedly this morning. Life certainly is a vapor.

    Oh, Sister McDaniel. I’m so sorry. Was it an accident?

    3. Jana Jones Wow. This was powerful. Thank you for writing this. It really puts things in perspective.

    Thank you Jana. Sometimes we are absolutely jerked into what is real and eternal. God help us all.

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  6. (First posted by Yvonne on Facebook.)

    Yvonne M Aune I will ponder on this post for awhile..I too pray all my business is in order. Thank you for the reminder that eternity is forever and in His presence is where I forever want to be. GBY! Love you dearly!
    Love you, too, my dear wise young lady.

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