1. Joined
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    21 Dec '07 16:42
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year-old lawyer, who collapsed in court from an aneurysm and was pronounced dead hours later.

    I suspect that most of us, perhaps all of us to some extent, ignore the reality of death. But the truth is that death is very real. At any moment, my life, or your life, could end; furthermore, when this will happen cannot be predicted. This is a terrible truth, regardless of what you may or may not believe about an afterlife, and we ignore it because it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
  2. Joined
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    21 Dec '07 17:01
    Originally posted by castlerook
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year ...[text shortened]... se it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
    Im sorry this has happened to you...i too lost a friend but through murder and it really hammers home the truth that life is so very precious and fragile...i made amends with people i had fallen out with as i would not want to be on bad terms if my fragile life was to end suddenly!!!
  3. Joined
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    21 Dec '07 17:031 edit
    Originally posted by castlerook
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year ...[text shortened]... se it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
    I think when you are younger you think that you are invincible and will never die. As you experience more in life you see other people go and it dawns upon you how fragile life is.

    Every moment is precious. And it is good to be thankful to God for each moment that you do have.
  4. Hmmm . . .
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    21 Dec '07 18:13
    Originally posted by castlerook
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year ...[text shortened]... se it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
    I am about the same age as jaywill. I have seen a number of friends and family dies, some quite suddenly and unexpectedly. I never know what to say in such circumstances that does not sound either like some Pollyanna sentimentality or a clinical commentary on grieving. And I have never really appreciated such comments, however well-intentioned, in the midst of mind-wracking, gut-wrenching grief.

    I neither deny nor struggle against grief; nor do I cling to it, lest it turn into something else. Eventually, it begins to pass, and I go on, realizing, as jaywill says, that life is both fragile and precious. In that regard, there is a Zen saying that I try to remind myself of, and I paraphrase here:

    In every breath,
    is one span of life.
  5. Illinois
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    21 Dec '07 22:09
    Originally posted by castlerook
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year ...[text shortened]... se it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
    I agree, in part. Everyone denies the reality of death at least to some degree, which is really no surprise when you think about it. Death runs contrary to everything we are innately geared for. But were a person to be constantly aware of death, he or she would not be able to live well at all. Indeed, it is possible to live in constant fear of death, as is documented by Dr. Viktor Frankl, a psychologist who survived Auschwitz, but I doubt such a survival state could be called "living well." There are permanent emotional and pyschological problems which develop as a result of a prolonged exposure to the stark reality of death. Death may be "natural," but from the creature's perspective it certainly is not.

    I think the one thing that really allows people to live fully, despite their circumstances, is hope. Frankl's experience in Auschwitz taught him that those who survived were the people who were able to retain a sense of hope. Hope can overcome all obstacles. One particular lady had a dream that the war was going to end on a certain date. Frankl noted that she was happy, bright and cheerful right up until that day came, but it came and went without the war ending. Three days later she was dead. Hope is central to life and without it death hastens. The more hope one has the better.
  6. Illinois
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    21 Dec '07 22:29
    I believe this is why the message of the Gospel resonates so profoundly across the centuries, because Christ is the one who overcame death. The hope which He calls humanity to transcends death, and it is this hope which is the great power in the heart of a Christian. It is so much more than merely accepting the inevitability of death, the hope which one has in Christ joyfully conquers death. For instance, my grandmother so profoundly affected the doctors and nurses at the hospital where she died, by the grace with which she died, that they felt impelled to come and speak at her funeral. She exuded such hope from her face outwards to others that she changed their lives. It was the hope she had in Christ.
  7. Donationkirksey957
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    21 Dec '07 22:39
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    I agree, in part. Everyone denies the reality of death at least to some degree, which is really no surprise when you think about it. Death runs contrary to everything we are innately geared for. But were a person to be constantly aware of death, he or she would not be able to live well at all. Indeed, it is possible to live in constant fear of death, ...[text shortened]... Hope is central to life and without it death hastens. The more hope one has the better.
    I remember reading about a holocost survivor (it may have been Elie Wiesel, but not sure) and he said that it was better to give up hope and keep you faith than to lose your faith and have hope.
  8. Joined
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    21 Dec '07 23:10
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I remember reading about a holocost survivor (it may have been Elie Wiesel, but not sure) and he said that it was better to give up hope and keep you faith than to lose your faith and have hope.
    got to agree. faith is forever, hope can be dashed so easily.
  9. Joined
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    21 Dec '07 23:52
    In one of his books, comedian-author Al Franken tells of his father, who was not a religious man but enjoyed being with his friends at the Synagogue, when he was on his death bed. The rabbi from the Synagogue came over to the house and asked if he could speak to Al Franken's father. Al walked into his father's room and asked his dad if it would be okay if the rabbi came in and talked to him. Al's father responded by saying: "The rabbi can come in and talk to me if he thinks it will do him some good."
  10. Joined
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    22 Dec '07 00:47
    Originally posted by castlerook
    Someone I knew died yesterday. Lest I give the wrong impression, this was not someone I knew very well, and it would be a stretch to call him a friend. And yet, his death seems to be affecting me more than those of people I knew and cared for better. The reason is simple: his death was sudden. Unexpected. He was a seemingly healthy and robust 46-year ...[text shortened]... se it is terrifying. But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth that we can live fully.
    "This is a terrible truth, regardless of what you may or may not believe about an afterlife, and we ignore it because it is terrifying."

    1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

    I'm not afraid to die.
  11. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    22 Dec '07 01:39
    Death is simply Nirvana. I'm not afraid. Well, not very.

    Now pain I am afraid of.
  12. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    22 Dec '07 01:41
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I remember reading about a holocost survivor (it may have been Elie Wiesel, but not sure) and he said that it was better to give up hope and keep you faith than to lose your faith and have hope.
    If you really keep your faith and lose hope, then you believe in a horrible God and your situation is very, very bad. Having faith but no hope is worse than having neither, because at least the faithless one can expect to escape his hopeless existence.
  13. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    22 Dec '07 04:031 edit
    Originally posted by AThousandYoung
    If you really keep your faith and lose hope, then you believe in a horrible God and your situation is very, very bad. Having faith but no hope is worse than having neither, because at least the faithless one can expect to escape his hopeless existence.
    In fact, I suggest that one cannot lose all hope without faith. Without faith, there's always the hope of death, but with faith, things just get worse (because you have no hope this is what you believe).

    In other words, one needs to have faith to be completely without hope, just as one needs faith to believe anything without doubt.
  14. Illinois
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    22 Dec '07 09:53
    Originally posted by snowinscotland
    got to agree. faith is forever, hope can be dashed so easily.
    I suppose it depends on what your hope rests in. The hope which Christ calls humanity to is not the hope for worldly gain or glory. Sometimes death is inevitable. Sometimes the hope for perfect health and safety is as realistic as that poor Auschwitz lady's dream that the war would soon end. But the hope which Christ calls us to simply cannot be dashed, nor snuffed out by even the worst of fates. It is that kind of hope which cannot be extricated from faith. It is that hope which gave everyday people the unearthly courage to be torn to pieces by lions with songs of praise on their lips and joy in their hearts. It is absolutely and entirely unconquerable and indomitable.

    --------------

    "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

    "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
  15. Joined
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    24 Dec '07 03:461 edit
    My sincere thanks to all of you who responded to my post with kind and thoughtful words. I usually don't get into personal details of that nature in this sort of forum, but in this case a personal event was leading me to seriously contemplate death and its relation to life, and it felt appropriate to share some of those thoughts here. Thanks for listening.

    Regarding the end of my original post, when I said, "But I wonder if it is only by accepting this truth [the reality of death] that we can live fully" ... I did not mean to suggest that we should live in constant fear of death, or be otherwise unhealthily obsessed with our mortality. Nor do I think that accepting death is the only step or the final step to living a full life (though I certainly see how my post may have come across that way). However, I do think that coming to terms with our mortality is a very important step in the process of spiritual growth. What I have tried to take away from my recent exposure to the swift, unpredictable reality of death is a resolve not to waste away the life that I have; to live with presence in the world, recognizing each moment as an important one.

    This is a lofty goal that I know full well I don't currently meet, but it is one I will strive for.
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