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Friday, February 03, 2012

Coping with sudden death

This post is in reaction to the accidental death of a seven-year-old girl that I didn't know. She died yesterday. I did know a little about her father, and had spoken briefly with him several times at his place of business. I know a number of his employees, and former employees, pretty well. I know an adult daughter of the person who was driving the vehicle that was involved in the accident. My Facebook page has had a lot of posts by others on this event in the last few hours. Some of them have been wonderful. Many of them have been perplexed. If this helps anyone else, fine. I hope it does. But I'm just musing about it. I'm not an expert.

How should sudden death be coped with?

Be ready! Death comes to everyone, and death is permanent. After death, there are no further chances for communication. Death ends all chances to fix things, to do things, to say things. I should be ready to go at any time. I should be sure that I tell the people that I love that I love them, often. I should be sure that my relationship with Christ is up-to-date. (I hope that I love Him. I know that He loves me.) I should realize that this is true of others, not just me, and, if I truly believe that heaven is for real, and that there is a hell to shun, try to lovingly persuade those others to be ready for their deaths, in as many ways as possible. In Luke 12:20, Jesus told a story of a man who wasn't ready for death, and called him a fool.

My will should be made, and up-to-date, and I should have made plans for others to access my important documents, written a tentative obituary, and planned my funeral.

Comfort! In John 14, and elsewhere, Jesus tried to comfort His disciples, in advance of His death. He sent the Holy Spirit, who is also called The Comforter, to them. The Holy Spirit didn't come right away, but several weeks later. Survivors need comfort, after death, for a long time. Comfort can be given in many ways. Showing up, taking food, helping clean, hugging, saying "I love you," or "I'm sorry," calling, and in other ways.

Forgive! This includes self-forgiveness. I don't know all the circumstances of the accident, but the driver surely has had reason to question a lot of things -- why didn't I do this, and why did I do that, and what if. The parents must have such questions, too. And not just about the accident. Did they show her enough love? Were they perfect parents? No one is a perfect parent, and no one is a perfect driver. Try to realize, and accept this, and move on. It won't be easy.

Of course, it may be necessary to forgive someone else. Is that always easy? Of course not. But what good does it do to not forgive? Unforgiveness eats away at a person. It hurts the unforgiving individual more than it can possibly hurt anyone else.

It may be necessary to ask for forgiveness, too. If so, do it carefully, prayerfully, lovingly and humbly.

It's not about me! It's about the person who has passed, and everyone else. The devil wants me to use any excuse to become the axis that the world revolves around. I'm not, and I must try to avoid trying to be, or thinking that I am or should be. Is this easy? Of course not. Christ provided the example, and Paul tells us about that in Philippians 2:5-11 and 1 Corinthians 13.

Pray! For yourself, for others affected, and, that, in the entire situation, Christ will be glorified, perhaps in ways that you never see.

May God help this family, and those associated with this tragic event, and all the other tragic deaths.

Thanks for reading. I'm no expert on this subject. Both my parents are dead, but both of them were in declining health, and had been for some time. A brother-in-law was murdered, two years ago today. But I haven't coped with the death of a spouse, or a child, a grandchild, a close friend, or, as a child, a young parent. I probably will have to do some of this at some point.


Weekend Fisher said...

Good advice, despite the disclaimer that you're not an expert. :)

If I could make one observation about a pair of your comments: that we should have pre-written our obituaries and pre-planned our funerals. I've known many funerals that were pre-planned by the deceased, and those are generally considered quite a gift by the family, a beautiful expression of how they'd want to be remembered. But the obituary -- I've been in charge of two of the family obituaries and eulogies in recent years, and I have to say, the obituary and eulogy are the family's chance to reflect, to appreciate a life. So I think it would be a gift to our families to have made plans for the memorial service, but not so much to have written the obituary for them. I'd suggest that we don't take that away from them; it's a gift to let them do that.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

OK. You are probably right.

But the family often doesn't know the facts of the life of the deceased -- where born, early occupation, etc., and it would be good to have such details written out in advance for the family, so they can use it in writing the obituary.


Philip Smith said...

Good post. I sent the father flowers with John 14:27 on the card.

I agree on the preplanning ~ a last will and testament and a living will are VERY important for anyone over 18.

I have written some parts of my obituary, but mostly because I'm a writer.

I've also told my wife how to access my computer for certain records, etc. (And put the instructions in a safe, known to family members place)

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atLibertytosay, and thanks for your work.

We also need to tell family members how to access our social media, e-mail accounts, and the like.

atlibertytosay said...

Thank you.

This is very important.

Many people forget about passwords, websites, social media etc etc.

Martin LaBar said...

Yes, they do, and I wouldn't want to be the survivor of the author of a popular blog, Facebook account, Flickr account, or the like, without knowing how to tell readers that the author had passed away, and most likely, without being able to close the account.