I was just inspired, AGAIN, by one of my friends by his post – And then there was one – on the passing of one of the family pets. I have known this family for almost 20 years and we share some very common life situations. Nopas has been one of those people in my ministry that has been supportive, calls me on stuff and we have always been able to reconnect regardless of time and geography. Grateful I am for his presence in my life over the years.
As he spoke about this time in his family’s life I was not surprised at all about the way that his family handled the death of this dear, sweet presence in their live. I am not surprised that in so many ways, this home filled with grace and joy, is also planting seeds to deal with death in a way that is healthy, grounded and blessed.
What a gift that is. I think that so often we shy away from talking about death: death of others, death of situations, death of even ourselves. I wonder that that says about our understanding God’s presence in both life and death? And, what do we say to our children?
As a parent of three girls that are filled with life and boundless possibilities for their future, I think that my wife and I must not only encourage our kids to LIVE the fullness of God’s possibilities and intentions, but we must also, as the situations warrant, teach them about death.
At some point, sooner than we think, my own death will become more real. As I approach 40 and see my dreams of playing shortstop in the major leagues fade in the distance, there indeed will be a moment when I will need to play a different role for my kids. Just as we now help them to develop gifts of discernment to make good faithful choices in order to fully experience the gift of life, at some point my being will shift to how to teach them to fully experience the realities and grace that exists in death. Sure, I can – and might – go the way of denial, anger and anxiety, but I hope that I will be able to appreciate the blessings of God enough to respond to the face the of the end of my earthly life with joy, gratitude and dignity.
Time will certainly tell, but if I take my belief in a life everlasting seriously, I will have no other choice but to teach well, my children about both the joy and grace of both life and death. My first lesson to teach is to live with hope, my final one, to die with grace.