In 1969 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying which has now become famous especially for the five stages of grief that she presented.
I’ve wondered why more books aren’t written about death in evangelical circles.
My supposition is that it’s because most of the writing and publishing takes place in the developed world where we live pretty healthy and long lives.
I was recently with Serge’s Area Director for Africa, physician Dr. Scott Mhrye. When he arrived in Bundibugyo, Uganda, more than 20 years ago he said that women and children were “dropping like flies.”
In the Western world, by contrast, a person can get pretty far along in life without ever having been to a funeral.
Lots could be said about how this affects us, but at minimum we don’t have many a wide array of resources for dealing with the death of a loved one outside of a professional counseling room and sensitive care from our clergy (both of which I wholeheartedly support).
Contrast, for example, the websites, books, magazines devoted to subjects such as health and nutrition or home improvement.
That’s why I took notice of a poem I recently read written by Barbara Miller Juliani, the daughter of Jack and Rose Marie Miller, who founded Serge.
Barbara wrote this poem upon Jack’s death. He was in his 60s and died due to heart failure in 1996.
The lilacs bloomed the year my father died
For years we watched them grow
Without flowers or fragrance
Then we saw them—
Coming home from his dying —
A few small buds heralding a larger display
We’re not sad my father missed them
Surely he sees blooms without end
In the gardens of the mansion
Prepared for him
No, the sorrow is for us
Left with memories that include him
And now memories that won’t
Bushes that bloom,
Children that grow,
Laughter and tears that go on without him
Yet we see in those buds more than loss and pain
They are our gift and guarantee—
A promise of resurrection and hope
That begins now with a few small flowers
And unfolds toward an eternity
Where death no longer reigns
And spring is everlasting.
Having lost family members this year, I have my radar out for these kinds of grace-filled and honest words.
And I am clinging to the hope of the resurrection and the clear statements of God’s Word:
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-26