Why do we use ‘nice’ names for death?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Why are we so afraid to say that someone is dead? We say, “She/he has passed on, or away.”  I realize it’s considered a “nicety,” a way for there to be less pain. It seems to be a gentler, less harsh, or not so cold way than “died.” But have you considered that it might be part of the healing process, a means to bring comfort and healing?

We use terms like deceased, expired, departed this life, but we never say, “Jesus passed away on the cross.”

Without death, there can be no resurrection. There cannot be a miracle, without the reality and acknowledgement that there is a problem, a situation, a condition or circumstance, that needs healing.

In John 12:21, Mary said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.“ Translated, what they said was, “Jesus, it’s your fault! Why didn’t you come, and come quickly?” Jesus is always there, here, Everywhere! Jesus is omnipresent — always there.

One of the most comforting promises is, “I will never leave you nor forsake you’... I am with you, until the end of the age.” (Deuteronomy 31:6,8; I Chronicles 28:20; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) Jesus also told them that he would not leave them comfortless. He gave us the free gift of the Holy Spirit, a constant presence.

A song reminds us, “No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.” All of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” through Jesus Christ to the honor and glory of God the Father.

Paul knew that “To be absent from the body is to present with the Lord.” Yes, it’s true that a person has transitioned from one stage to another. 

Death is a rite of passage. Either you go to heaven or hell. There is a choice. We make the choice while still alive. Jesus said in Deuteronomy 30:19, “... I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses...” He even provides us with an open-book test. He gives us the answer: “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

You will either live eternally with Jesus, or with Satan. I love the song, “I Can Only Imagine.” I want to “dance before your presence,” and fall on my knees to worship him.

There are five stages of grief. You can hop, skip, or jump between them. They don’t have to be experienced in order. Don’t let nobody tell you what stage you should be in by now. It is, what it is! Give yourself permission to be where you are — no apologies necessary.

Physical death is only one kind of death. Any significant change that causes us to grieve over what has been, what no longer exists, is a death, be it the lost of a job, relationship, moving, status, divorce, illness, etc.

It’s okay to grieve. Even Jesus wept. In the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:4, it reads, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us: there is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh.

Revelation 21:4 assures us, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed ...”

I truly believe that healing always comes, usually in unexpected ways. The healing of relationships is an unexpected healing. What for years has been broken, Jesus can fix it! Alleluia!

Don’t worry about trying to avoid a grieving family member or friend, because we don’t know what to say. A simple “I’m sorry,” or “I’m here for you when you need me“ (if it is sincere) is enough. Sometimes silence, and just listening, is the best thing we can do.

Often when there is a death, we try to console the adults, but ignore the children. We brush them aside, and tell them to go play. In my ministry with troubled youth, I’ve found that many have began to get in trouble with the law, after they have experienced the death of a significant person in their life. 

This happens most often when a grandparent dies. Children might think it’s their fault, or blame themselves for not spending enough time with them; or being disrespectful.  I guess that goes for adults as well.

Let us look forward to the day this Scripture becomes a reality: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)  Jesus gives us the victory over death!

In one of the most profound “I am” statements, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die ...” (John 11:25-26).

This is the good news, the best news ever! We can talk about death, because Jesus offers us the opportunity to be alive with him forever! Praise be to God!