Over the past several decades, western culture has become increasingly insulated from suffering and death.
Aging parents are no longer completing their final days in our homes. We now visit our elderly in hospitals and convalescent facilities. Perhaps we prefer not to allow the realities of suffering and death to be part of the ongoing experience of life.
Previous generations welcomed aging parents into their homes to finish their time on earth. This came with hardships, discomforts and sacrifices, but it also educated people in what earlier generations called, “The art of dying well.”
It’s one thing to teach loved ones how to live well; another, to teach them how to die well.
A wise teacher once said, “Death is the destiny of every person and the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). We cannot deny or escape the universal truth that, “From dust we have come and to dust we shall return” (Genesis 3:19). You might wish to deny the truth of first part, but you will most certainly prove the second to be true.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor; influential or unknown; educated or uneducated; religious or heathen — one day, we all must breathe our last breath and we must die.
Before going on with this theme of death and dying well, let us affirm seven truths about death and life.
- Death is an enemy and a thief
- Death separates us from our love ones
- Death is an occasion for grief and sorrow
- Death is a consequence of our sin as a judgment or curse
- Life is precious as made in the image and likeness of God
- Life should be valued and promoted
- Life should be protected when possible
Death doesn’t get the last word
Gratefully, there is a world coming where “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
“Christianity is, among other things, the wonderfully good news that this life is not our whole story” (Robert C. Roberts).
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
see: ars moriendi Ars Moriendi, or “art of dying,”