From : T.M. Schoewe
Do you read the obituary columns? We bet you do. It’s interesting when there are no big headlines on the front page commanding our immediate attention how quickly some of us go straight to the obituary columns to see who is there! Or who’s no longer here! An odd curiosity! This past weekend we scanned the front page then turned to the obituaries because it just so happened there was one in particular we were looking for. And we must confess, we read it two or three times over. And so it is.
Do you realize there is a lot of pain and grief behind the columns of death notices? Some writers like Elizabeth Ross along with several psychologists say there are five stages of grief that people necessarily go through to varying degrees. First there is the surprise associated with a loss, etc… that is met with DENIAL! It couldn’t be! Then there is the ANGER! Yes it is the case! Grrrr! Third, they say people go through a phase of some deliberation, some adjustment. This is the BARGAINING stage. For example, “well, OK, now what?” Then there comes a period of DEPRESSION! And finally when one resolves or comes to an understanding of things and can honestly find closure and move on, there is the fifth stage of ACCEPTANCE! We do not necessarily agree with all of that and we’ll tell you why.
For believers in Christ this is not exactly so. And like theologians we do not agree about these stages or that grief necessarily moves through each of them, or that they necessarily apply to any loss…like divorce, job loss, etc… First and foremost it is bad theology and in tension with Christian eschatology and the Bible’s teaching about our enemy death as being the end, as though it is what is FINAL! NOT! Now the atheist will tell you “death is the end of your story.” And as we just said, we don’t believe that. In a lighthearted way, my mother used to tell her atheist neighbor, “Julia, if what you say is true, and there is no God, no Jesus Christ, and death is the end, then I am not out anything. BUT if there is life after death, then I’m the winner and you unfortunately are the real loser.”
My father was a Lutheran pastor, who before newspapers did so, closed every funeral at the church by reading a hand written obituary of the deceased; who was then carried to the cemetery to say, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Ashes in hope of everlasting life through a cross that is large enough to cover us all. And so our acceptance of the death or loss of a loved one does not necessarily involve a phase of reluctance and need not involve depression, for we believe and know as the Bible tells us, that death is not final.
Please do yourself a favor and read the great obituary chapter in the Word, Hebrews chapter 11. Learn to say with these Hebrews, “all these were seeking a city which has foundations whose maker and builder is God.”
Final thought! We understand and know behind each obituary is pain, grief for at least one and most likely more. And grief is an unruly and emotional story. So since we are all players, let’s say a prayer for those who are touched by grief and hope they are in on the greatest unending story…world without end! Read Psalm 23 and John 14 1-6, and Job 19:25 and know your Redeemer lives!
P.S. Thank the Lord for “the Post” and their editorials. And thank you, Rickie S., for assisting us in making press with Donna’s obituary. We salute you! Keep the obituaries coming and know the “story goes on!” It is not over!
P.P.S. We apologize for not writing a piece on Veterans’ Day and remind everyone there is always time to thank someone you may have rubbed shoulders with that served or is serving. Finally, thanks to all that stood the vigil, put together and participated in the service down at the Park this Veterans’ Day. Thank you!