In England, it is Remembrance Sunday, when the churches are full of people wearing poppies and singing rousing hymns about young men who died protecting their country. It’s one of the few occasions when we think about death, the apparent waste of a young life, someone ‘giving their today for the sake of our tomorrows.’ Death of a young person always seems like a waste, doesn’t it? Unfulfilled potential.
Actually, I think death of other people is always horrible. Whatever words people say, trying to be kind, about the person ‘living on in our hearts’ is mostly not true. They are gone, and we miss them. Sometimes we miss them for the rest of our lives.
But I don’t want to talk about that, I want to talk for a little while about our death—yours and mine. Because whatever else we might know about life, we can be sure that one day, it will be our turn. When I had my brain tumour, I thought a lot about death. Everyone with a brain tumour knows that death is real, and it might not be very far away. Some people choose to push the thought away, to ‘keep being positive,’ but I’ve never been one for avoiding difficult issues, so I thought about it, and prayed about it, and came to some conclusions. I share them with you now because one day, you will die, and maybe these thoughts will help you when the time is near. Maybe someone needs to hear them today.
For me, death is intrinsically linked to God, so even if you don’t believe in anything, bear with me.
Firstly, I do not believe that death was some ghastly mistaken afterthought. Nor do I believe that it happened because mankind sinned. If you read the story in Genesis, about the creation of humans and what their purpose was, then we can see, right at the start, there was a ‘tree of life.’ Why do we need a tree of life if there was never intended to be any dying? No, it was all part of the plan. We were created with an expiry date! I find that comforting. Death, when it comes, is not due to anything bad, something humans caused; it was always part of the plan.
Therefore, when it’s time for dying, I absolutely believe that God has it sorted. And if God has it sorted, it will be better than we can imagine—which is why it’s also scary—because it is beyond our imagination. Anything we can’t imagine happening is scary. I suspect that being born was scary, but we don’t remember that far back. The thing is, I think it is meant to be scary, because we are not supposed to be dead, not yet. If we all went around wanting to be dead, then imagine the mess! It would be very untidy. Being alive, wanting to be alive, means that we do not want to be dead. Which is how things are meant to be.
I also believe, absolutely, that when it is time for me to die, God will make me ready. But not beforehand. If a child is given a train ticket to hold at the start of the journey, they will probably lose it, so a good parent gives them the ticket at the end, just before they need it. God is a good parent, so we will be ready to die when we need to be, and not before. Whenever I talk to people with terminal illness, and they tell me they are scared of dying, I tell them that they probably won’t die today. When it’s time, maybe not until the actual minute, God will make us ready. And ‘dying’ isn’t really a thing. The people who I have been close to have all been living even if living more slowly, right up until they died. Their bodies may have been broken, but they never stopped being themselves and having opinions and emotions. Until you are dead, you are alive.
Personally, I believe that when it’s time, Jesus will collect me, because that’s what he said he would do. We don’t die alone, even if no other person is close. Dying is about God, and souls, and probably where we physically are doesn’t matter much (though I hope to have sight of the sky and something beautiful). We tend to think of Heaven as ‘up there’ and far away. But I think that Heaven is near, all around us, through a veil that’s very thin, but we don’t see it. Heaven is a different dimension, not a place far away. I think passing through that veil will be very easy, and then we will rest, until it’s time for a new earth, and a new body (and I’m hoping the new body has a better singing voice than the current one!) But that’s all for later, not something worth thinking about really.
My own view is that when Jesus died, he paid the price for everyone, for all time, and that no one needs to be scared about dying. We can all trust God on this one. Other people disagree, so you must make up your own mind—but looking to God for answers is definitely a good start.
So that’s it: What I think about dying. Not very complicated, and not scary, not if you trust God.
But I hope you won’t die today and you will enjoy every day that you are alive. Make the most of it! Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x
One of my novels, Invisible Jane, includes the death of a child. Invisible Jane is a lighthearted love story, but includes a description of explaining to a child about death.
Available from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle book:
An account of having a brain tumour (which will only be of interest to fellow sufferers or their family) is in: How to Have a Brain Tumour. You can read it for free if you have a Kindle. Also available as a paperback.
Thank you. This was well said, but hopefully unneeded. Though I do worry at my lack of strong resistance to the thought. May you continue to explore your potential for some time to come!
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