Grief support volunteer and former palliative care professional Kemi Koleoso says that she thinks of 'death as an end with a bend'. Here she explains why Christians should find hope and encouragement in death and shouldn't shy away from speaking about it.
Did you know that in 100 years from now, almost everyone living today will have died, and a whole new group of people will be living? And assuming people will still be living in houses and shopping in supermarkets, then a whole new group of people will be living in our homes and shopping at the local supermarket. Talking about death is a little weird and does not come comfortably for many people. WHile this is understandable, death is one of the few sure things in life. It’s something we all have in common, and as Benjamin Franklin said: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.
In the UK, where life expectancy is high and the majority of people die in hospital, the reality of death is at times hidden. Death can become a no-go topic, and we avoid talking about it because we feel it’s too morbid or we don’t want to upset anyone. Did you know that there are more than 50 euphemisms for death in the UK? My two favourites are "pushing up the daisies" and "wearing a wooden onesie". We understandably use these euphemisms to soften the word’s bluntness. However, using plain language can sometimes be more helpful. Talking openly about death is beneficial in ensuring people get their wishes met and makes it easier for them to come to terms with dying.
It's a privilege to be with people at one of the most challenging times of their lives and praying that the love of God is communicated.
I worked as a palliative care professional for many years and I’m a grief support volunteer at a hospice. The assumption can often be that repeated exposure to death and dying would negatively impact the lives of people who work in such settings. However, the opposite is often the case. While acknowledging the severe impact of death and dying on individuals and their families, you can't help but recognise the affirming life lessons you encounter. For example; the privilege of occupying an opportune place to discover meaning in life, the importance of my faith in God and knowing that there is hope beyond the grave. In addition, the privilege of being with people at one of the most challenging times of their lives and praying that the love of God is communicated, if not in words, then in deeds.
As alluded to earlier, death is an unavoidable part of life and, therefore, also becomes an inevitable part of our faith. Acknowledging the inevitability of our death should help us live with purpose and intent. It should shift our focus from fearing death to ensuring we live in the fullness of life as Christ intended. Our faith and trust in God should impact how we view death. We no longer see death as a defeat but as a triumph, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" Death was Satan’s trump card, but the power and victory of death is swallowed up in Christ’s resurrection victory.
Acknowledging the inevitability of our death should help us live with purpose and intent.
These days, when asked questions about death. I often say that I like to think of death as an end with a bend. But unfortunately, many people don’t see the bend, so they think it’s the end, but around that bend is eternity. For Christians, that is, eternal life in the loving arms of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It does not mean that I’m eager to take the journey soon, but it does mean that I can live life without the fear of death and with the hope of eternal life with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.