What is this Thing we call Death?
"And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing. And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land...but there were many who died with old age; and those who died in the faith of Christ are happy in him, as we must needs suppose (Alma 46:39-41)."
There have been many deaths within my little circle the last few months, four of which have occurred in the past six weeks. Today my heart is sad as I "mourn with those who mourn." Many tears have been shed not only for those we've lost, but also for those who've been left.
When death is so inevitable why is it hard for us to accept? Yes, we will miss those we have come to love in this life, and there are those deaths which are sudden or appear "too early" (which is the case for these most recent deaths); but for those who know there is something after this life, we still must mourn and struggle with what death means to us.
I love the writings of Rabbi Harold S. Krushner! On the topic of living and dying he has written, "In my forty years as a rabbi, I have tended to many people in the last moments of their lives. Most of them were not afraid of dying....The people who had the most trouble with death were those who felt that they had never done anything worthwhile in their lives, and if God would only give them another two or three years, maybe they would finally get it right. It was not death that frightened them; it was...the fear that they would die and leave no mark in the world (Living a Life that Matters, p. 6)."
In other words, many of us are not afraid to die. We're afraid we will never truly lived. As we continue to age in life we begin to wonder, "Did I matter?"
Similarly, in one Elder Uchtdorf's great talks, he touches on these thoughts. He talks about the regrets most people find themselves having as they near the end of their lives:
* I wish I had spent more time with the people I love,
* I wish I had lived up to my potential, and
* I wish I had let myself be happier.
I, for one, find myself wondering these same things as I continue to watch these beautiful people pass away. I find myself wanting to love more, make better decisions with my time and energy, and simply be happier. I used to say, "I don't want to get to the other side and wish that I'd enjoyed myself more!" And it's true. This life is really so short. It's busy and it's hard and it's our current reality, but it is not the end - - which should bring us some comfort when we come to that knowledge.
Again from Elder Uchtdorf, "Yes, this life is passing swiftly; our days seem to fade quickly; and death appears frightening at time. Nevertheless, our spirit will continue to live and will one day be united with our resurrected body to receive immortal glory. I bear solemn witness that because of the merciful Christ, we wi ll all live again and forever. Because of our Savior and Redeemer, one day we will truly understand and rejoice in the meaning of the words 'the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.'"
So, for those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, I pray for the peace "which passeth all understanding." For those who are still living, I pray we can all resolve to be a little kinder, love a little more, slow down and enjoy the journey that is ours to live. "For behold, this life is a time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors (Alma 34:32)." What a great opportunity we have to prepare for such a day as that!
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"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s." - - Romans 14:8