Seeing the best in life's challenges

The Exit Ramp

on July 14, 2012

It has been quite a week.  Sickness and death has been at the forefront of life.  On Wednesday, I attended the funeral of the father of a high school friend, who passed away very suddenly, and talked with another HS friend who lost her dad in a similar way.  I spent a few days with someone I don’t get to see often, and caught up on the story of all she went through while caring for first, her mother, then her father, both of whom passed away over the last several years.  I felt the sorrow expressed in a post by a young mother, over the passing of her baby’s father.  A friend of a friend is battling cancer.  Seems like it goes on and on.

Death is something we don’t like to think about.  We only really face it when we have no other choice.  We know what we are “supposed” to believe, but do we, really?

A friend of mine is considering a surgery that is very risky.  She doesn’t really think it’s her time yet, and she isn’t worried about dying anyway.  It makes me think of a relative of mine, who was in his 80s and had an inoperable condition.   He was joking with his family the night before he died.  He also told them that he had no regrets, that he had had a wonderful life, and that it was just his time.

I remember, as a kid, not really understanding why people got so upset about the idea of dying.  I’ve never really been afraid of it.  I have absolutely no doubt that there is so much more than this life.

The best funeral I ever attended was Paul’s.  He and his wife went to our church in California.  Paul was a really fun guy who liked to wear Hawaiian shirts.  He had been sick for a while, and he was really clear that he wanted his service to be a celebration.  His work friends came wearing Hawaiian shirts, and we sang lots of songs, and we celebrated a man that we had all loved.

The worst funeral I ever attended was also in California, in the late 1980s.  It was a service for a guy I worked with for only a short time, but he was also a fun, positive person.  He died suddenly of pneumonia, but I am sure it was an AIDS-related illness.  The service was at a funeral home, very few people attended, and the words that were said were very, very empty.  I don’t believe he had any family there.  There was a hopelessness that was very, very sad.

Does death scare you?  Are you able to think about it?  If so, why not face it and deal with it, figure it out?

What happens when we die?  When I was in junior high, I read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying when I was researching a report on near-death experiences.  Check out this story, about David Milarch, a friend of one of my friends, who had a near-death experience.  Don’t believe it?   Read the book Heaven is for Real, about Colton Burpo, the four-year old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness, enters heaven, and then tells his parents about it after he recovers.

More recently, I read Dr. Brian Weiss’ book Many Lives, Many Masters.  There are all kinds of resources and information that can provide insights and understanding of the process, in addition to faith-based beliefs.

Ultimately, all fears lead to the fear of death.  Are you protective of others, loved ones, children – what if they get sick?  What if they get hurt?  What if they DIE?

If you are going to conquer fear, then you must overcome the fear of death.  And it’s not an impossible task.

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