A Beautiful Death

People pass away from this life, leaving us in their wake, until the day we approach the threshold ourselves and come face to face with the Almighty Creator.

In the past year, more funeral marches have been played than I can count. But what have struck chords in my flesh are the families connected to them and the stories they have to tell. Whether a person fades away quietly from this earth or exits in a violent, instantaneous end, the veil must be crossed. In both frames, whether peaceful or not, death has a purpose, and the soul beneath the shell of those bodies creates something beautiful when the time finally arrives.

In thinking about today’s topic, one woman’s voyage from here to the hereafter continues to stick in my mind. From the exterior, I can only assume that her end was painfully violent and abrupt. Understanding why she was taken so young from this life is not something I can explain. What I believe is this: I believe that her death was a sacrifice, and it saved the life of her child. I believe that she hoped she would live, but knew in all reality that she would die to save her child.  As the life and death moment approached,  it probably gripped her heart with adrenaline, but her decision to comfort, hold, and protect her child at any cost was already made. I also believe that in her prayers she asked for peace— and in her passing received it. In all honesty, she probably prayed that her entire family would be saved and clung to the fact that her Savior held her life in his hands, never dreaming of leaving her family behind. (take a deep breath)

Ancient cultures believed in something called a beautiful death. To die whilst giving life a purpose offered a person’s family honor and respect. Usually this happened in battle—taking the sword for another, fighting to save when all should have been lost… Moreover, giving a life to save a life, using your flesh to protect and save another. Sacrificial was the usual way to earn this, though sacrifice is not always a physical event. These are extraordinary and beautiful actions. Hence, the mother who wrapped herself around her child so that in the moment of death, when the blow struck, her body would take the impact and within hope upon hope, her child would live — She is picturesque of a beautiful death.

In the same vein we see the offering of Christ. What madness drives a person to leave the safety of their seat belt to climb into the back seat of a car and wrap themselves around a car seat? It’s the same madness that drove a man to be beaten almost to death only to suffer (and when I say suffer, the weight of that word is not nearly heavy enough) the most hideous and painful death imaginable so that I would live, you would live, your children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors, etc. would live.

“Where there is love, there is life.”

Yes, love is madness (bold, italics, repeat!!!)–but what love offers is life. Love is what shows us that death has a purpose, and that we must fall through it to come face to face with it. Love is Christ. Christ is love. And on that note, the love of Christ is life. (John 3:16)

I wonder at it, that if faced with such a decision, would I be so secure in the love of my Savior that I would remove the safety harness that protects my life in order to save another. To my magical, mysterious, fantasy driven mind, I want to say yes—I desire a beautiful death. But the reality is that I also desire to fade away painlessly, quietly, peacefully in my sleep, dreaming of heaven and the stars that shine above it… beautiful in a minimalistic, “she’s met the creator of the unimaginable” kind of way. Still a beautiful death, but much more quiet—like the first star fading into the morning sunrise.