Tag Archives: death

Nothing to be frightened of

I haven’t blogged for some weeks, but the recent news stories around assisted dying prompted me to share with you a fantastic book I have just finished. It is called The Welcome Visitor and is co-written by John Humphrys and Dr Sarah Jarvis. I have touched on this book in a previous post when I was reflecting on the death of my brother-in-law last year see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/dignity-and-death/ .

This book is incredibly moving, and I would recommend it to anyone who has not yet mulled over the practical issues around caring for a loved one as they may pay the price for living longer and not dying as you are they would want them to. You see Humphrys and Dr Jarvis deal with the ethical, mental, physical, physiological ,spiritual and practical issues around the death of a loved one with such care, dignity, empathy and humanity. These are people who care about people;  they know what it is to have loved and lost for themselves and they want to see others learn from their experience. They take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined a few generations ago. So, are we keeping people alive because we should or simply because we can? As the book itself outlines; “there are no easy answers, but the first step must be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.”


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How long does a man live?

Earlier today I blogged about a prayer for Father’s Day. Within my own family my prayers go out to my nephew Matthew and his half-brothers and sister.  Today they will spend their first Father’s day without their dad. Almost a year on from Michael’s death the sense of hurt, pain and loss is still very tangible within the family and on this day in particular his children will feel very low. Please pray for them as their is much healing and reconciliation needed as people get angry with each other and God about this situation.  In additional please pray for children everywhere who are missing their fathers who are departed, missing or estranged.

I leave you with the tributes paid by Michael’s children Matthew and Ollie at the memorial service last year.

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When it’s all been said and done

Robin Mark was the first worship leader I ever saw at Spring Harvest. I love this gentle, moving and evocative version of such a beautiful song- “When it’s all been said and done , Did I do my best to live for truth, Lord I’ll live my life for you?”. Over the next few weeks. I think about my mother,  grandfather and  brother-in-law who died around this time of year and this song reminds me of them so much I just cry.  Lord bless Edward, Jean and Michael, and my prayer is that they are with you in glory.“For you’ve shown me heaven’s my true  home, you’re my life when life is done.”

For some reason I am not able to post the link to You Tube so you’ll have to check it out for yourself- sorry!

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The Young are worried to death

According to recent research from Theos,50% of the population fear the process of dying. Twenty percent admitted to fearing both the way they will die and death itself, while 30% said they fear the way they will die but not death itself. A surprisingly large 25% claimed to fear neither death nor the method of their demise. Surprisingly the highest proportion of people fearing both death and they way they will die is 18-24 year olds (26% compared with a 20% national average).

So what does this research suggest- that young people are not feeling as immortal and sometimes they suggest? Is it that there is a breakdown in the over arcing religious narrative in our culture? Do these people have a lack of experience in dealing with death? Theos suggests we need to discuss death more and maybe our churches should take a lead in starting the conversation.

Well if the church is slipping into oblivion as a few media commentators suggest, let’s take a few people with us-they may even enjoy the ride. Let’s do what we can to change the ghost train into the tunnel of love and enjoy the fun of the fair!

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You passed on truly. That was your word!

When I first watched the film Truly Madly Deeply by director and writer Anthony Minghella, I was blown away by its sensitive depiction of the collision of love, grief , loss and longing. Nina (The character played by Juliet Stevenson) has lost her lover Jamie (Alan Rickman) to an untimely and unexpected death and she finds it difficult to let go and move on with her life. Jamie  returns to help shepherd her out of the grief and encourages her to  find love again.

This playful scene depicts the morning after the first night of Jamie’s return. I watched it over and over again when I got the DVD, it has an innocent yet intimate charm about it. It’s playful, joyful and yet we know this joy cannot last. It makes me thing of how Mary felt at the tomb and, (this Ascension day ) the joy she and the disciples shared when their risen Lord appeared to them. How must they have felt when having him back he told them once more he must leave and they would have to find their own way?

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Being there is priceless

The National Secular Societyhas called for public funding of hospital chaplains to be phased out, saying it costs the NHS at least £40m pounds a year. I don’t know how much that works out for every person that passes through the door of every hospital, or even every patient or family member that the chaplain see, but I do know that this is work which it is hard to put a price on. How much is is worth to a family to sit alongside a grieving parent or child? What should it cost to listen to someone on their deathbed who wants to get themselves right with God or be prayed with? What is the value of bringing peace to someone who has been mentally or physically traumatised?

Sister Phaedra Pamphilon-Green – a chaplain at Homerton Hospital in east London – believes her work provides a valuable and unique service to patients. BBC Radio 4 Today Programme reporter Angus Stickler spent a day with her, which began at a funeral service for a still born baby girl.

See for yourself what happened and why just being there is priceless  http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8011000/8011962.stm

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We’re singing angels instead

ripSo is it really  any surprise that Frank Sinatra’s My Way and Robbie Williams’ Angels rather than hymns are becoming the tunes people want to leave this world to? A recent survey of 30,000 funerals conducted  by Co-operative Funeralcare has revealed that pop, rather than sacred tunes or hymns ,count for the majority of requests at funerals- 58% to 35%. My Way by Frank Sinatra was the most requested piece of music overall, followed by Wind Beneath My Wingsby Bette Midler and Time To Say Goodbyeby Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. You Raise Me Upby Westlife made its first appearance in the top 10, alongside Angels by Robbie Williams and Over The Rainbowby Eva Cassidy.Humour played a part in many funerals, with Always Look On The Bright Side of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian among the most requested tunes. Funeral homes also reported a number of unusual requests, including the Radio 4 Shipping Forecast and the themes to everything from Only Fools and Horses and Top Gear to Benny Hill, Z Cars and Channel 4 Racing.Some songs are considered too outlandish for the occasion, however. One in every ten requests is rejected by the clergy conducting the ceremony on the grounds of inappropriateness, according to the survey by the UK’s largest funeral director.

Songs have the power to move us, inspire us and, most importantly, often remind us of key dates or experiences in our lives or , as in the case of some of the more unusual selections say something about the character of the departed. With fewer people attending regular church services, how long will it be before hymns slip below 10%? Thank God for the rousing experience of beer and hymns at Greenbelt, and the success of some towns running Big Sing style events where people are invited to select and join in community singing to their favourite hymns.

My father-in-law is an athesist, but has already told me he wants How Great Thous Artto be sung at his funeral, and some Christians I know want only secular music…it’s a funny old world. The most popular hymn remains the sung version of Psalm 23- The Lord is my Shepherd.

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