I’ve recently learned that my friend lost her husband to a heart attack only four years into their marriage leaving her and two very young kids behind. I reached out to express my sympathy. And for the first time in a very long time, I felt a level of fear that has been absent in my life for what seemed like ages. I feared of saying the wrong thing, or saying the right thing at the wrong time. I ended up keeping my quiet, saying nothing more than “my condolences.”
I don’t do well with sympathizing with the mourning. I never have. For the very reason that death is a happy occasion in my perspective. I always want to bid a joyful farewell to the departed, and always with a little sense of jealousy that they get to look at God’s face sooner than I would.
I keep my quiet around the mourning because I am aware that most people find the topic of death to be unspeakably difficult and disturbing. I don’t. I have always been observant even as a kid. I have attended so many wakes and stared into so many peaceful faces of people in caskets. The concept has never frightened me. In fact it has always piqued my interest. In my silent observance I have learned to understand the process. Why the body has an expiration date. Why death is an integral part of life.
The process of dying I sympathize with. I understand the suffering in the struggle to hold on to life. But I have always held the process of dying to a different degree than that of death itself. Those are two very different things to me. I am accepting of the fact that some have to go ahead of the rest of us. I do not need to know the answer to why. When God says its time, I agree. And that has always been good enough for me. I have always accepted that the time to move on is when God says ‘let go.’ No sooner, no later.
Saint John Paul the Great, in his last will, wrote “that everyone keep the prospect of death in mind and be ready to go before the Lord and Judge – and at the same time Redeemer and Father.” He revised his last will several times but never changed that part. The suffering Pope knew that there is grace especially in death. The highest level of healing.
Most of the people I look up to and would really be happy to meet have already gone to that place that is still hidden from me. The secrets of the universe have already been revealed to them. The many questions on the mysteries of life have already been answered for them.
I honestly think that none of the departed would feel like they missed out on the latest advancements of our modern times. They are not the ones missing out, we are.