Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not Afraid of Death...Just Dying

Lately I find myself reflecting on death and dying.  Isn’t that a morbid way to start a blog post?

The last couple of months I’ve been in contact with a number of people who are dealing with the end stages of a terminal illness. 

I’ve come to the realization that I’m not afraid of death…just dying.

Let me clarify.  The dying process I’ve seen in people over the last few months is a painful process of bone degeneration resulting in fractures and infection. 

Another woman suffers from metastasizing lung cancer, now devouring multiple vital organs throughout her body. 

One blessing in the midst of these situations is the care and dedication of the Palliative Care hospital staff who work diligently to bring dignity, pain relief, and comfort to individuals in their final days.

Aside from the selflessness of the hospital staff none of this paints a pretty picture. 

Truth be told, I harbor a secret dread of cancer.  My mother succumbed to lymphoma at the age of 48.  We’re shaped by our past experiences and it’s hard to get that one out of my frame of reference.

Did you know 68% of the population indicates a fear of death?  To explain why I’m not part of those statistics let me share a story…

My grandmother was 92-years-old when she died.  She was unresponsive in the hospital when I went to visit her.  While I stood holding her hand, her breathing gradually became more and more shallow.  Panic slammed through me as I realized she was slipping away in front of me.

My brain screamed in protest, “I can’t handle this!”

Before I could think or feel or react in any other way a presence filled the room.  I’ve tried other times  to verbalize what I experienced,  but I’m afraid words come up short.

Panic melted away as an overwhelming sense of peace descended.  I was filled with a joy that I’ve never felt before or since.  The best I can do is to call it close to euphoria.  Peacefulness filled the room and I knew this was good and right.

I don’t know what happened in the hospital room that day.  I don’t know who was there with me as my grandmother danced with the angels…God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit… all of the above.  But I think, for an instant, I may have caught a glimpse of the glory of God.

“…I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people!  He will live with them, and they will be his people.  God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever…’”  Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

The process of dying still scares me, but death?   Death is new life.

Are you afraid of death or dying?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

1 comment:

Lori Beaton said...

Thank you for sharing, Carol! I was holding my grandmother's hand when she passed and I was filled with an indescribable sense of joy. I know without a doubt that she was going to a wonderful new home!!