Surprised By Death


The other day, I spent time choosing our clothes for my uncle’s funeral.  As I moved around my bedroom trying on different dresses, everything felt surreal.  I can’t believe I am picking out clothes for his funeral.


After all of the family functions we’ve had in the past, even when we went to the calling hours, I almost expected him to walk into the room, shoot a smile my way and be the life of the room.  A look with his warm, loving eyes and a familiarity that was like coming home.


We were surprised by his death . . .   


First, let me thank you for all your prayers for my family.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them.  As difficult as the last days have been, we know God is in control and continue to trust in Him.


Nearly two weeks ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has already matastasized.  She is 98 and will not be going through treatment which did not surprise us.  She is ready and she has lived a long life.


The surprise came on Thursday of last week when we learned of my uncle’s death.  When my family had not heard back from him, which was quite unusual, they called the police to go over to his house.  And what was lying in the back of our minds as a remote possibility became the present truth.  He had died.  It was of natural causes and from what we know, it was peaceful.  But it was still a surprise.


My uncle was the kind of guy who was always making a joke, poking fun or lovingly bickering with my mother.  (They were notorious for this and I think they intentionally kicked it up a notch when an audience was present.)


I can still hear his laugh.  I can still see his smile.  He had vibrant eyes and was truly a kind and gentle man.  His wife predeceased him by seven years.  His children survive him . . . and his 98 year old mother.  Even at her age, I can’t imagine surviving the death of a son or daughter.  It is heart-breaking.  She is heart-broken . . . No, she said smashed.


The one comfort in all of this is that my uncle knew the Lord.  He had received the precious gift of salvation from Jesus long ago and he lived a faithful life.  There is something about the death of a loved one to make you look at the beyond . . . to ponder your own mortality, to dwell on what lies beyond the threshold of this life.  I don’t know how people who don’t have the faith and assurance of salvation and an eternity in heaven get through the grief and death of a family member or close friend.  It would seem unbearable.


There is a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman called “With Hope” that speaks to the fact that we can grieve with hope because we know our goodbyes are not the end.  I wanted to embed this video, but was unable to do so with this particular one.  Here is the link to watch it.  It is a beautiful song.


I know I will see my uncle again.  No doubts.  No questions.  I can grieve with that hope.  


And even though we were surprised by my uncle’s death, God was not.  He is still on the throne.  He is still in control.  He knows what our days, weeks and years hold.  At the moment He ushered my uncle into heaven, He knew the phone calls that would be made, the tears that would be shed and the loss that would be felt.  But He also knew that heaven was my uncle’s true residence where Jesus is the “life of the room” and only that can truly be . . . like coming home.


In loving memory of my Uncle John.  

Photo Credit:  DuBoixMorguefile

Linked with:  A Pause on the Path


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  2. 2 years ago, my son broke his neck (C4 and C5) in a diving accident and although he was ultimately able to walk out of the hospital under his own power, he suffered tremendous and ongoing nerve pain and became addicted to his prescription pain meds. He was able to overcome his addiction, in spite of the pain, and on march 25, rededicated his life to Christ. on the afternoon of march 27, he was murdered–shot at extremely close range by a madman with a high powered rifle.
    although i am still reeling in shock and disbelief, and the pain of losing him is unrelenting and indescribable, i am grateful every single day to know that i will see his beautiful face again, someday.
    we can, indeed, grieve with hope because we know our goodbyes are not the end.

    • Oh Jayedee, I can’t even begin to imagine the depths of grief and loss you experienced and are still experiencing. I am so very sorry for your loss. The death of a son or daughter must be the absolute worst and as you said, unrelenting. My heart just breaks for you. I will lift you up before the throne of our God for comfort and strength. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, Kristen