STANDING CLOSE TO DEATH

I have often watched people approach an open casket. In a private and deeply personal moment, the griever comes face to face with whom they have lost. It is not unusual for them to touch the dead body, caress the hair or bend down and kiss the departed.

The coffin often contains personal items including pictures, letters, a Bible or a hockey jersey. Someday, there may be people bending over your casket and touching your hair or kissing you. What will the people who are left put in your casket to commemorate your life?

Usually, there is someone at the funeral home who is especially affected by the death. It may a spouse, a sibling, child or grandchild but we have an instinctive sense of the one most affected. In reverent, hushed tones we say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” We clasp their hands or hold them in an embrace.

Tombs and graveyards are often out of town. We remove the dead from the community and put their remains in quiet gardens away from the world of our busy lives. Or in some cases, we put their ashes on a mantle or end table in our homes.  (Most of us are glad that we do not practice taxidermy).

Historically, churches used to have graveyards outside their church building. We used to keep the dead close to our worship. Perhaps the church had a greater sense of eternal relationship to one another in days gone by.



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