Thoughts on Death

 


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Before we discuss the subject of death, we should discuss the subject of grief. And that is that there are basically 5 stages of grief that one undergoes when one encounters a loss, whether it's a broken relationship, bankruptcy, a loved one's death, ones own impending death, or any other loss. They are in order of their occurrence 1) denial, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4)depression, and 5) acceptance. You could skip a stage, or perhaps go back and forth, but in general these are the stages people go through when one experiences a loss.

1st Internet Question: WHY DO SOME OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE DIE SO YOUNG? AND WHY, EVEN THOUGH WE PRAY FOR THEIR HEALING, SOME NEVER GET WELL, AND CONTINUE TO SUFFER AND DIE?

The answers I've received on 2 Christian websites indicate that nobody really knows. Basically they say that death is caused by inherited sin, and many of the deaths of the young people are caused by the sinful nature of others, while other deaths of the young, such as in cancer, can't really be explained. They also seem to be saying, which I agree with, that God really doesn't cause these deaths, but we do feel that He can use these occasions to strengthen us in our faith of Him, or perhaps even teach us a lesson.

2nd Internet Question: WHY IN HEALING SERVICES DO SOME PEOPLE GET MIRACLE CURES AND OTHERS DON'T?

The answers again which I've received on the same 2 Christian websites indicate that many feel that this is just a show and that there really is no medical verification of the fact that these people were really healed at the healing service. Others on these websites believe that God does heal, but only in prayerful small groups without a lot of fanfare. While others feel we really don't know, although if a person does have a positive attitude, it helps a great deal. One said that the sovereignty of God is actually foreign to us. I feel that while God answers some prayers the way we want, some even better than we want, many others He doesn't answer the way we desire, but even so, in our prayer time we tend to feel more content in that at least we know that God is with us in our disappointment.

3rd Internet Question: HOW WOULD YOU RELATE TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES THROUGH DEATH? WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY SAY TO THEM?

(Responses come from 2 Christian websites)

1) Mat says: Through Jesus Christ we have hope in the resurrection.

2) George says: Many times when I have gone to a funeral or to a home of a Christian who has just lost a loved one, I go with the intent of offering comfort. When I leave I realize I received more comfort than I gave. However, I have no idea what to say to someone who is not a Christian and has just lost a loved one.

3) Jack says: There's a lot of verses that you can throw out at a person on a resurrected eternal life, but if you just throw out verses you risk being cold and insensitive. I never know just what to say myself, but just hug and love them so that they may see the love of Jesus Christ.

4) Laura says: Don't say anything, just listen, and talk if they need you too.

5) Alice says: When we lost Dad to a heart attack, the ones who were the most comfort to Mom were those who just gave her a good hug, a shoulder and an ear. Praying for strength and comfort is a huge blessing and we could feel the lifting up of our spirit. Maybe it's just our family, but none of us could remember any words of comfort. Perhaps this is because of the numbness of our grief.

6) Jay says: I've never found it easy. It depends on the person. I usually just say I'm sorry it happened and express a share of their sadness.

7) Sam says: Sadly, I'll be trying to find the right words soon. One of my Mom's best friends was murdered this past week. It's incredably sad. I don't know if there are any words we can plan to say really. As Jay says, it depends on the person and the situation. Any loss of a loved one is a sad situation, but it's probably sadder if the loss is of a child or one in the prime of his or her life. So I guess the best words are just to let the person know that we care and that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

8) BJ says: What I say is something that let's them know that I am sorry, saddened to hear of their loss, and then ask them how they are doing with things, and if I can help them in anyway.

4th Internet Question: SHOULD YOU TELL ONE THAT HE OR SHE IS TERMINALLY ILL? IF SO, HOW? WOULD THE PATIENTS KNOW ANYWAY WITHOUT YOUR TELLING THEM? HOW WOULD YOU RELATE TO A TERMINALLY ILL PERSON? HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THIS WITH ALWAYS BEING TRUTHFUL AS SCRIPTURE SEEMS TO INDICATE YOU SHOULD BE?

1) Corbin says: I know I would want to know.

2) Ralph says: I just went through this with my best friend, Dan, actually. He died last February 6th at the age of 44. Sixteen months after he was diagnosed with cancer. For most of that time, the prognosis was not actually terminal, but about 3 months before he died, they pretty much told him he wouldn't make it. Still they kept telling him to try experimental treatments and were even giving him chemotherapy almost to the day of his death. I don't know if they really thought there was any chance or were just trying to give him some hope to help keep him going. In a way, it made that time a little easier for me since, in the back of my mind, I always felt there was still the possibility that he might beat it, however slim. I also think it may be important to give a dying person at least some hope just to make his or her final days bearable. Good post.

3) Shirley says: In spite of the sensitivity of the subject, I think it would be more cruel to withhold the truth from one who was dying. I went through the experience with my mother who died in 2000 from a rare blood disorder. She had 3 years after her diagnosis and about 1 year left when she was told that her condition was terminal. Knowing seemed to “free" her somhow. She began to do things she'd been afraid to do before, thinking it might somehow worsen her condition. She took trips and visited friends and relatives for as long as she was physically able. She planned her funeral, picking out her own casket and pallbearers. She chose the person to give the service; she chose her dress and the music she wanted - one song - “You'll Never Walk Alone". She made a will and paid her funeral expenses so that my sister and I would not be burdened or have to make all these choices after her death. She requested that we sign paperwork refusing to have her resusitated by artificial means when the time came for her to die. She didn't want to be kept on life support and have my sister and I to have to decide if and when to discontinue it. My mother was one of the most courageous women I've ever known, and I'm sure that she was glad to know her true condition and appreciative for the time she had to take care of her affairs before her death.

4) Mary says: I don't think there's a hard and fast rule for this question. It would depend very much on the patient - whether you knew they were likely to be able to acceept it or spend their last days in misery or terror because they'd been told. My mother knew without being told and would have been very annoyed not to know because she took considerable pleasure in being able to sort out her affairs and make her peace - but she was that sort of woman. I would certainly want to know, probably because I take after my mother. As to truthfulness, there's such a thing as being unnecessarily truthful, if the dying person doesn't know and would be desperately upset by the news. It would be unChristian surely and certainly cruel to force the unwelcome news on them. And sometimes when a dying person feels stifled by their relatives’ and friends’ grief, they often want deseparetly to talk about it, so it's really up to those around them to help them with that, because it can help them accept what is happening and to make the best of the time that is left for them.

5) Carlos says: I wonder if we cheat people by refusing to tell them that they are dying, because if they don't already know it takes time to die. There are a lot of responsibilities to tie up. There are people you would like to meet one more time to say those things you never got around to saying, to forgive and ask forgiveness. You can get so tired of hearing the phony happy talk from the medical people, family and friends, because it gets in the way of getting ready for one of the most important experiences in our lives, that of preparing to leave this life. I speak from personal experience as I have started dying more than a few times. Having chronic illnesses, I am well aware that at some point it will kill, or the complications related to my illnesses will kill me. That is barring that some accident doesn't get me first. Death is never very far away from my thoughts and I have made my peace with it. I don't give up, but I am not afraid of it. However from my experience, I know my mood jumps all over the place when death seems to be approaching. So when the time actually comes, I don't know how I'll react. But denying death, interferes with living life fully. How often do we put things off to later and never actually get around to do them. Once you realize you can and will die, you dive more into living and put off fewer things. It is less what we do and more of what we haven't done that we usually regret. Death is not our enemy because it's what makes life so precious.

5th Internet Question: IF A DOCTOR TOLD YOU THAT YOU ONLY HAD 5 TO 6 MONTHS TO LIVE, HOW WOULD YOU REACT? WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE THAT WAS AVAILABLE?

1) Martin says: I would trust in God rather than believing in the doctor. Obviously I would not think he was a quack. I'd heed his advice, but I'd rather trust in God, because the doctor is not always right. There are many people who were supposed to have died years ago but who are sill living today.

2) Jack says: Hopefully I would do the same thing I'm doing now. If I got that type of news and felt I had to change my life, it means I really hadn't been leading the type of life I should have been leading in the first place.

3) Albert says: I'd quit work and collect my insurance, go on a world trip and see my relatives and friends around the world and probably keep preaching. Of course, I would check it out with the Lord first.

4) Jim says: I agree with JAC. Why should we live any different if we had only 6 months to live when our lives can be taken at anytime?

5) Sam says: This a very good question to think about.

6) Carlos says: Well it depends on what you could still do, both financially and physically. I've been near death several times with chronic illnesses, and because of this, I believe I appreciate life much more than many who seem to drift through life under some sort of belief that they have plenty of time to get around to living their lives. Life is really shorter than they think.

7) Corbin says: I think you should live each day as if it's the last day of your life. Of course you should plan for the future, but still you should not depend on the future. God will take care of that.

6th Internet Question: ARE YOU AFRAID TO DIE? WHY OR WHY NOT? IF YOU ARE, ARE YOU AFRAID TO LIVE ( ENJOY LIFE ) AS WELL? MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT IF YOU'RE AFRAID TO DIE, YOU'RE REALLY AFRAID TO LIVE ALSO.

1) Joe says: No, I'm not afraid to die- I have the blessed hope in Jesus that when I do pass on I will be going from death to life. However, I do wonder when I die how will it be. Will it be quick, in my sleep, will I suffer and if I do, will I do it graciously or will I complain? I do love life though.

2) Eddy says: Not as such. I love life, and I want mine to continue for a long time. I would worry about my family. Every family needs a father. But dead and what lies beyond holds no terrors.

3) Fran says: Afraid to die, not really. Saddened somewhat at the prospect of leaving loved ones behind. However, I know I will see them again. I leave it in the Lord´s hands and do the best I can while I am here in this mortal world/body.

4) Mat says: I am not afraid of death. I know my reward awaits me - whatever it is. I fear dying. I have seen so much dying under horrendous conditions, especially in wartime. I really fear pain more than the reward.

5) Corbin says: I'm not afraid to die, but I do fear the process, especially when pain is involved. I just can't stand pain.

6) Carlos says? I have no fear of dying at all. But when the time comes, I have no idea what my reaction will be. Living has risks. There is really no safe way to live. If we are unwilling to take any risk, we will never fully live, although we will try to put the risks in our favor. We must always be aware that anything we have, including life, can be taken away at any time. So we must fully enjoy life and appreciate what we have when we have it.

7) Ruth says: Yes, I would have to say I am more afraid of dying than not for 2 main reasons 1) I don't want to leave my kids behind without a mom, and 2) I might be wrong in my understanding of what it takes to spend eternity with God. Good topic though.

8) Sean says: I'm afraid to die because I enjoy living so much, and I'm afraid that eternity could be a disappointment.

7th Internet Question: WHAT WORDS ON A TOMBSTONE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BEST DESCRIBE THE SUMMATION OF YOUR LIFE? I ASK THIS QUESTION BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD DO NOT SEEM TO HAVE A LONG RANGE GOAL FOR LIFE, AND THIS QUESTION MAY HELP THEM IN FORMULATING SUCH A GOAL.

1) Fran says: “I loved and was loved". Life doesn't get any better than this.

2) Jack says: “Spent his life packing his bag and sending stuff ahead - now he's gone home"

3) Carl says: “This Witch has left this life and gone onto the next. Why are you wasting time here just reading this text" Actually, if you believe in reincarnation as I do, you will have many lives to correct the many regrets you might have in previous lives, and so you don't really have to put anything on your tombstone.

4) Mick says: If the tombstone can wait, who knows what my life may bring in the future.

5) Sarah says: I heard two opinions which seemed quite original: They were 1) “See, I told you I was sick. " and 2) “Still vacant".

6) Corbin says: I would put “I was a Christian nudist" because these were the 2 events that were most meaningful to me during my lifetime.

LIVING FOREVER

If you're afraid of death, the only other option that you would have is living forever. And if this is your choice, and since you still can't avoid death in this mortal world, you would have to have your body frozen, or put in a deep sleep, until science finds a cure for what killed you. If eventually death can be humanly defeated, what would be the consequences of such an event. I believe, and the respondees on 2 Christian websites seem to agree, that the consequences would be

1) overpopulation, which could stretch our natural resources to their ultimate limit
2) much more competition for employment
3) much more hatred being expressed due to all the economic hardships taking place
4) much more boredom due to the lack of adventure being sought because of much more time on our hands
5) no solutions for accidents still happening which could leave you crippled for eternity
6) no answer for evil still existing in our midst
7) no hope for another life that would free us from all our human worries.

I was born in New York City in 1931, grew up on Long Island, graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia with a BA in Political Science, and from New York Theological Seminary with a Masters Degree in Religious Education. I became a committed Christian in 1958, and after a number of years became a committed Ecumenical Christian. I worked as an accountant in various companies for about 25 years in New York City, then moved down to Argentina and worked for about 21 years as a Business English Conversationalist Teacher with some of the top managers. My greatest life-changing experience occurred in the early 70's when I became very active for about 3 years in a social nudest (both sexes) camp. I also became a Stephen Minister (trained counselor) while down here. I have been married twice (the last to an Argentine), widowed once, and have no children, but one cat. If you want to contact me, you can do so via (corbinwr@yahoo.com).

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