Dying well

Dying is a normal part of living.  I remember the first time one of my patients died. It was a tiny baby that was born much too early. I cried right along with his mother.

Once I cared for a man whose family one by one, kissed him and gave him permission to leave. “We will see you in heaven, it’s OK for you to go.”   and with that, he slipped out so peacefully that it took a few minutes to realize he was gone.  He died with dignity.

Everyone of us will die, but even before we leave soul from body, we die deaths of all kinds. Relationships die. Careers die. Churches die. Ministries die.  Even as believers, few of us accept death gracefully.  We find it hard to understand that the ending of one season is the ushering in of something grander, something more glorious, a place where we see Him clearer, nearer.

Maybe it’s sheer determination that prevent us from admitting it’s time to breathe the last breath.  Just like a bad breakup, we have an uncanny way of hanging on when all dignity has begged us to step aside. Maybe it’s pride. In our blind arrogance, we cannot admit we were not enough. Maybe it’s fear. What will I do? Where will I go? I don’t want to be alone. So we fight death with a clawing, wild eyed passion that only comes from the desperate.

I am learning in life that dying well is as important as living well.  There are times recently when God has leaned in and whispered, ” It’s time.”  and I have found the best thing to do is like my elderly patient, just simply let go. To continue to beat the chest of what has no breath is agony. For me and everyone else watching, and they are watching.  I am not the hero for continuing to attempt resuscitation. I am to be pitied.

When The  Giver of Life to mankind and his ministries declares time of death, it is not for me to wail in the hallway.  I want to trust enough not to climb on the bed and continue compression after the the doctor has left and the maid is mopping the floor. To do so screams of denial.

Let us rather trust enough to release our grip, to find enough strength to breathe one last time and move on to the next life.

Death was never the plan of the Creator, but as in all things He brings life from death. He is not bound by death but rather uses it as a transition, a passage. In your season, while you fight for breath and claw at any form of aid that walks by  rasping out, “Don’t let me die”,  you have forgotten that there is something better. Infinitely better. Don’t demand life support when there is not longer brain activity. All that you have is a  breathing lifeless body.

God instead offers life to the fullest. He wants to give you grace upon grace. He is holding open the gates as an angel comes to usher you to new place.

So hold the funeral and cry for today, that is expected. Grief is also part of living, but die well. Die with dignity. Trust that the end of this is the beginning of something better.  Death  for the believer or a church, or relationship,s or careers, or seasons only ever brings us closer to Christ.




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3 responses to “Dying well

  1. Pops

    I am humbled and honored that such a beautiful, heart-soothing truth about God’s desire for our “transition” from one life to the next was penned by one of my favorite former students!
    Tell The Mister he is a lucky man;)
    Coach Sutherland

  2. Coach S.
    Fond memories! God has been good to us all! The Mister has tamed me! 🙂

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