The Christian Response to Death

Candle Christian response to dating

Yesterday, a dearly loved member of my family passed away. She was eighty-three and died from a mixture of old age and internal complications.

Thankfully, my family felt moved to say our goodbyes to this dear relative, and so last week my father and I drove 800 miles to Florida. We managed to spend a good amount of time with her, although she was unconscious or incoherent most of the time. We sang over her, prayed, spoke, laughed, cried. . . and we made memories.

During this time, I was re-introduced to many of my dad’s close family, including eight of his cousins and several of second-cousins. Here, I felt so greatly welcomed, it was almost astounding. Every single one of his close cousins made it a point to tell me that they loved me.

This is astounding even for a Christian family. Four out of the five that did this knew Jesus; the other did not. All of them made it a point to spend time with me, whether that meant taking me to the grocery store or just asking me about the 1940 presidential candidates.

“I’m just the teenager” is a mantrum drilled into me from experience. Because of some family members, I am used to feeling rather young, immature, and not excepted, which is perfectly understandable. I am, after all, a “stupid teenager”.

It was these Florida cousins, however, that made a huge impact on me. They could have ignored me, they could have treated me negatively, but they spoke to me as if I were an adult and held me to the same standards. I will never forget this.

Furthermore, it was in Florida that I was first introduced to possibly the most beautiful form of grieving I had ever seen. My great-aunt, the woman that died, never had any desire to survive this. She made it a point from the beginning of her road of sickness to tell the doctors not to make her better. Instead, they made her feel comfortable and waited.

This form of waiting usually isn’t easy on the immediate family. I have seen many types of grieving, most brought about by that horrible doubt that penetrates at the worst possible moment.

“Was she a Christian? Where were his beliefs?”

I personally have experienced this. Interestingly, this was not the case with my Florida kin. Every one of them, even the unbelievers (outnumbered 3-1) knew where she was headed. She was that kind of woman; the kind that impacts thousands in the greatest way possible. There was zero doubt as to her Faith.

This created a phenomenal situation. Instead of major grief, brought about by doubt, there was hope and joy. Finally, my great-aunt would be free of the pain she had suffered for so many years, and she would see her beloved Jesus.

This didn’t eradicate grieving. No, it simply muted it. The knowledge of her future laid at ease the minds and hearts of all her children and grandchildren. We laughed, we cried, we talked, we prayed, and we sang.

This response is precisely how Christians should, and often do, respond to death. Gathering around each other in comfort, love, and prayer, the Christian response to grieving is thirty thousand times more beautiful than the sterile mourning found in the homes and hospitals of unbelievers. What a beautiful gift God has given us! In conquering death, He gave us hope!

“The Christian response to grieving is thirty thousand times more beautiful than the sterile mourning found in the homes and hospitals of unbelievers.”

Sometimes, God chooses to make death easier. In His wisdom, He decrees that the determined man or woman shall pass peacefully away in their sleep. Other times, he appoints a long and difficult road, similar to the one walked by my great-aunt.

My great-aunt had been legally blind for almost half a decade. She was missing one of her lungs, and she was unable to walk without the assistance of a cane (humorously named Josephine). Her journey was one of pain and suffering, but at the end, God came through.

On her deathbed, my dad’s first thought was remarkable. He verbally uttered the words, “Death isn’t sexy”. I knew exactly what he meant. Hollywood often attempts to convince us that death is an easy and beautiful process, something that was just “part of life”.

But no, this death was not pretty. It was slow and hard. Yet through it all, God showed through. The last words I heard her utter (not her actual last words, just the ones I heard before I left) were a request for the song “Goodness of God” to be sung by my father and I.

In Uganda, the grieving process is completely different from the Western style. When a person dies, the closest family gathers around the body for a single night, and during that night, most of the community will surround them and enter into the grieving process, often weeping for someone they hardly knew. In doing this, they take a small part of the pain and grief from the family and put it upon themselves.

I wish the Americans did this. It’d be nice to have my neighbors cry with me if my grandfather died.

Seriously, though, when these grieving processes take place, something beautiful happens: God enters into the hearts and minds of every person in the room, regardless of religion, and meets them in their need. He comforts His children, and for that we can be deeply thankful. Praise God for His grace!

Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you did, please make sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side). Then, when I release new posts like this, you’ll get notified. Thanks again, and I hope you have a fantastic day!

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32 thoughts on “The Christian Response to Death

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss 😦 I know it’s been a really hard few weeks. Reading this gives me so much joy, though. It’s amazing to see the love of God overflowing in your family. Uganda’s traditions are so different o_o that would be so incredible though. My family has had a lot of losses over the past several years, but God has been so good to build me up through the process of Christian mourning. Thank you for this post! Continuing to pray for your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther

    I am so sorry, Elisha! Thankfully I have never had any close family members die, but I have had dear older friends that have passed on, and I can imagine the pain. It is wonderful that your great-aunt is with Jesus, now, though, and that she was ready to die and go to Heaven! I know from personal experience that even though I and others around me will grieve for the loss of that person, I cannot help feeling happy for them at the same time because I know that they are now in the place where there is no suffering.
    I will be praying for you and your surrounding family.

    Thank you so much for this post!

    ~Esther

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! It is such a blessing that she is with the Lord, and thank you so much for your prayers. God’s work is something fantastic to behold, and I am so glad you feel happy about their place; that’s a rare thing.
      Thanks for reading, seriously, as always, your support means the world to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Grace Nelson

    I am so sorry for your loss! God will surely comfort you and your family as you grieve. Death is a hard topic to cover. We all don’t really want to die, but with the heavenly mindset, it can be a joyful time. For the Christian, death is a blessing, because we get to be with our heavenly Father!

    Like

  4. landonfor30

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
    – Revelation 21:4

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m simply touched by your experience and that of others. It’s beautiful to see the Hope and Faith in your hearts in these trying times…May God continue to fill your hearts with peace and joy to continue this journey. God bless you

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know you personally, but I will keep your family in my prayers. Uganda, but in cyberspace, if you will 🙂

    The psychology surrounding death is very complicated. Whether the death was expected and prepared for, or unexpected and irrational. Whether the person was young or old. Whether you saw it happen and had the opportunity for ritual in media res or it happened at a distance and doesn’t feel “real.” Whether the cause was natural or the product of irresponsibility or something else.

    When our daughter was born, she spent 80+ days in the NICU because she required several surgeries. It was one of the darkest periods of my life, to be honest – I lived in a state of perpetual prayer. While we were there, two of the babies in the NICU whose families we had come to know passed away. Oddly, it was so much easier to deal with the deaths of my grandparents, who lived long lives devoted to God and serving others, than to see something like that unfold, even though the people were strangers to us before we were tossed together in a hospital ward.

    Sadly, our society trains us to obsess over death and loss rather than obsess over what is eternal.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Christian Response to Death — Elisha McFarland – quietmomentswithgod

  8. Ella Smalley

    So very sorry about your Aunt, I will be praying for you and your family. Elisha you have such a clear understanding of God’s message, that most people don’t have. Really appreciate hearing your incite into these difficult subjects. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Three Popular Misconceptions About Christianity – Elisha McFarland

  10. Pingback: Christ, the God of Fulfillment – Elisha McFarland

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