Losing a Loved One to Death
Sooner or later we all come face to face with death. It is one of the mysteries of life. When a sudden death occurs at any age it is a total shock to your life. When the death is gradual and expected, it is not easier, just different. When a death occurs of a young person, whether it is age 10 or age 30, most immediately think "unfair". We think, "they had their whole life ahead of them". Death is hard to face even if you are 75, let alone 20 yrs. Younger people tend to think they are somehow "immune" from this event, ironically, they see it all the time in movies, lyrics or at times, lost friends from drugs etc. Yet, after the death, this attitude creeps back into all of psyche, regardless of the age. Death seems to happen to others, but not me!
Of course, we are fascinated with the life after death events and theories and many wonder if it really the truth. What the world needs is evidence that it is true. People who die, see the light, hear a voice asking do they want to go or live, just come back with nothing more. Movies glorify this and almost make it that it is fact, there is life after death. Maybe so. God needs to reassure the human race that it does exist. He could, for instance, have John Lennon, come back to us and tell us what it was like. He was murdered in 1980. If this happened, I am sure the world would believe it, or, would they call him some satanic event?
Having lost a loved one gradually over a few months, when the time actually came, I was not ready to be at the bedside. Although they were already in a coma, maybe their soul had already departed, I talked into the air, fighting tears. But the days after were filled more functional things, like burial blot, paperwork, cremation, choice of vase, what to do with the ashes. Sad, yes, but daily life acted as a great diversion that allowed me to focus on other things. It was WAY harder returning to their residence, which was just as it was when they were "here". Upon entering, I broke down. I could not bare to look at photos on the wall, on the fridge, on the mantel. Then, far worse, was when the telephone rang and the answering machine came on. Their voice was there, reminding me that just a few days ago, they were alive and talking. Now, forever gone. I cherished the recording for many months. The home was so empty of life, but no more so than had they gone on vacation. It was the thought of NEVER seeing them or talking to them again that made it desolate in a place that had great times. It was torture. Later, more mundane things and problems came as to how and when to get rid of their many, many belongings. Furniture, cars, cameras, clothes, TVs and it just went on and on. Certain items would bring back memories making the process hell. It took weeks or more, even after the family members showed up to pick and choose like scavengers things they wanted of value. That was disgusting. Family members fighting over the remains of our loved one until nothing remained but memories in our mind. I thought, one day, that will be me who died. One day, it will be you, and the cycle repeats.
Death hits us all. Even General John Kelly of the Marine Corps. His son, 29, was recently killed in Afghanistan. The general had penned condolence letters for many soldiers who died in action before, never easy, but mechanical. Now it was his turn. While he was always prepared, like all of us, he never really thought it would happen to him. He felt God would protect his son and there was some sort of "shield" protecting his son. He even tried to imagine what it would be like. When it was his turn, he said the pain was disorienting and debilitating. In a moment's time, he seemed to recall every nuance about his son's life from birth, school, arguments, sports ending with hearing his voice a week before on the cell phone. His voice is heard continually. The memories were as graphic as watching a video of his son's life that seemed like hours, yet it was only minutes. But the worse was yet to come.
He had to tell his son's wife and child.