The Experience of Death

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Oh yes, you read it right.  About spending about 10 years formally studying theology, I thought I would break into the subject/experience of those who have passed around me.  Just to give you some “tips” and things to remember when someone goes through the loss of family or friend.  Also, Halloween always brings up concepts of death thanks to All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day

1) HUGELY IMPORTANT!!! — Make sure to realize that everyone experiences the death of another differently. And I truly mean differently.  Sometimes its shock, sometimes massive crying, emotion.   Though the stages of grieving are a good reference point–I don’t recommend sticking to them like a 12-step program.  People experience things so differently and NOT in any order so pleas remember this when you’re talking or interacting with this person.  And it differs from child to adult.  Personally, I lost my father when I was 14 and my mother at 28.  I experienced both VERY differently and interacted with others differently depending on what I was experiencing.  This is the most important thing to keep in mind when going through anything else

2) That being said, I suggest not talking down to people or talking like you’re walking on eggshells.  People do not need to hear about rules and regulations, things your lost one has NOT completed or that your religion has all the answers for the person who has died.  Still keeping in mind that people act different, I personally did not like people trying to be extremely sensitive.   Death is death.  It is a part of life.  You still have to deal with it and trying to be supersensitive personally just made me mad.  I know though that some people need more space to understand and break down what happened, which I am fine with.  But I don’t think speaking in hushed tones or spending time avoiding the person’s death helps them learn and work through their loss.ESPECIALLY with kids.  Kids are not dumb–they understand someone is not hear anymore.  You are better at talking with the child and teaching/walking with them on how to express their feelings so that they fell comfortable and learn that its okay to be sad/mad/confused/shocked, etc.  The most common use is when a favorite pet dies.  Be honest with kids.  The pet is gone.  You may/may not know where they went and yes, it is sad.  But maybe reminding them of the fun times they had with said pet will help them honor and enjoy the experiences they had.

3)  As I was driving home Saturday I was thinking about what people say regarding where people go after they die.  Especially Christians.  What really caught me is the “they must be looking down on you from heaven and smiling.” Though talking to someone right after their loved one dies is maybe not the best time– i have several issues with this statement.  Just like thinking that God is floating up in the sky somewhere, stating people who have died are looking down is not the best analogy.  Second–heaven.  Heaven by biblical terms is actually where God and the angels dwell.  I’m not sure if the dead are hanging out there with pretty white wings and halos.  In fact, the Bible speaks of paradise for the saved (not getting into that discussion here) and that’s the closest to heaven now.  When Christ finally comes in the eschaton (end time), a new heaven and new earth will come (oh praise be!)  Lastly, someone who is dead smiling.  Really? Person is dead.

NOW– maybe a better analogy is to remind the person of their lost one’s support.  For example, my parents both were passed by the time I got married.  Was I sad? A little.  Could I change that? No.  But what I did is remember that my parents were part of my family and important to the joining of my husband and my families with our union.  So I incorporated candles representing my parents.  To honor their wishes and dreams about the day I would get married.  Especially since my mom made a huge deal about wanting to give me away…her little miracle “I’m not suppose to have kids” child.  I meant that much to her.  And the 10 commandments do indicate honoring your parents–I think that’s more important to remember then thinking your lost ones are magical ghosts floating around watching you like Big Brother with a crazy deity dictator in the clouds.


These are just some things to keep in mind when people have lost their family/friends.  I know personally I got tired of people stating “sorry for your loss” or asking if I was okay.  But I know their just trying to understand something anyone can barely relate to… But let me say this: Though it is a terrible experience the loss of anyone you deem close, may you have whatever support and love from those around to remind that life does move on, that the time you had with said person was much loved and valued and to always keep that person well in your hearts.

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