We have lost the ideal of reverence at the hour of death, and put our faith in science and technology instead. That is what has transformed the natural and peaceful ending of life into a violent event. (from "In the midst of life" by Jenny Worth, page 335)
Death is a topic that most people feel very uncomfortable talking about, it is a topic that the media rarely ever approaches and we hide our children away from death so they grow up not truly understanding it and as a result fear it as adults. We think if we don't talk about it, it won't happen.
I have just finished reading "In the midst of life" by Jennifer Worth (2010). You may remember Jennifer Worth as the author of "Call the Midwives" which the BBC has made into an excellent series on TV.
In this book Jennifer document her experiences as a nurse treating patients at the end of their life (and she doesn't simplify or hush over the difficult parts of dying), she provides insight into the struggles families face when deciding what to do when a loved one is dying, she examines how modern hospitals are treating those dying compared to the past and she provides the views from experts in the field.
Whilst this book may sound incredibly sad and some of the stories are heartbreaking to say to the least - it is also uplifting and encouraging. She doesn't mystify death and due to her Christian faith, she isn't afraid to weaves her beliefs through the book. She particularly focuses on the aged, those who have lived a long life and have reached the end and would have wanted a quiet and dignified conclusion. However, tragically, many families want their loved ones to live as long as possible and therefore request medical intervention - resuscitation/invasive medical procedures - which removes any dignity to the end of ones life.
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. ~ C.S. Lewis
Books like this make you think about death and should be a conversation starter with your loved ones. Death should not be a topic that is never discussed, we should not be afraid of talking about death with our children. However I will admit I did struggle to write this blog post and on several occasions over the last week decided that this wasn't the time for me to write about death. My sister-in-law is in a serious condition in hospital and the Lord may come any minute for her. Death is perhaps a little close to home right now, however I read the following verse from John 14: 1-3 and it gave me such comfort. Whatever the Lord decides for my sister-in-law, His decision will be the right decision and we need to trust Him in this. We may not understand why He does what He does, but in time it does become clearer.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”We cannot escape death - once upon a time children witnessed births and deaths and accepted these comings and goings as part of their lives on this earth. They knew that after death was life, life with Christ ~ eternal life ~ a better life, life without pain and suffering, without sadness and grief. So many people no longer believe this and perhaps this is why they struggle so much in accepting death, as for them, there is nothing after life.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.~ 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Death is not the end, it is just the beginning of something very beautiful. We come from Christ and we return to Christ.
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 ~ Revelations 21:4
I was looking at the comments left on Amazon (UK) in regards to this book and I came across one that I liked: I have just finished reading In the Midst of Life and have found in Jennifer Worth an author who can reach out and take your hand, as you journey with her through some of the lives she has shared (6 Mar 2012). She does, in a very gentle but matter of fact way and it makes for compelling reading, I would highly recommend this book.