Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why death feels wrong

Everyone has to come up with a philosophical explanation of death. For most people, that ends up looking something like "death is a part of life."

So when someone says, "it wasn't supposed to be," that can be pretty jarring.

Rain drops on window 02 ies
photo by Frank Vincentz, from Wikimedia Commons
At the counseling conference I attended last weekend, a couple of sessions focused on topics related to grief and loss. The presenter was longtime teacher and school counselor Dave Opalewski.

Early in the session, he said something surprising: we weren't meant for death.

He went on to explain that he was a man of faith, that he doesn't shove his beliefs down anyone's throat, but that his faith impacts the way he views everything in life.

It wasn't the statement itself that struck me. I've read the passages in the Bible that indicate death was not God's original plan, and I believe that to be true.

Had Dave made that statement in a church gathering or a Christian college chapel service, it wouldn't have been nearly so surprising. What struck me was his boldness in making that statement at a secular conference.

As I reflected further on that statement — we weren't meant for death — I thought about how even in the church, we often don't really get this truth. Maybe that's why it's so easy to jump to terrible platitudes ("It was his time..." "She's not in pain anymore...") instead of just being with the person in their grief.

There's a reason our spirit contends violently with death when it happens. It's not the way it was supposed to be.

Death feels wrong because it is wrong.


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