Humanly speaking, we naturally choose to avoid talking about death. It is simply too morbid, and for those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one, too painful or depressing. But beyond the pain and grief, we have to ask what death really means. And that would depend on what we believe.
Death is inevitable, it is not a question of if, but when. We think of it as something that awaits us after a long fruitful life on earth and something we will only face in our twilight years. But I learned first-hand that it can and will come unexpectedly, and then life as we know it, will never be the same again.
I was 19 when I lost my father unexpectedly. He was involved in a military humanitarian exercise in Indonesia. On his way back, the driver of his vehicle fell asleep at the wheel and his vehicle went off the road and crashed into a tree. My father was immediately repatriated back to Singapore for emergency medical attention. However, before my younger brother and I could get to the hospital, my father breathed his last. My father was only 42. We never got to say goodbye and my world crumbled. He was more than just my father. He was my hero, my source of inspiration, the person whom I always felt safe and protected with, the person who made home a joyful and lively place for me.
The reality of death is terribly hard to accept, especially when it happens to someone so full of life and who means so much to you. In the immediate aftermath we are usually too caught up with coming to grips with reality, breaking the news to others and lastly, making the funeral arrangements. The real grief only sets in afterwards, when we struggle to get back to normal daily routines. Every shared memory brings with it indescribable pain. What’s worse, we can’t do anything but let the pain run its course and to allow healing to take place, one painful memory at a time.
While dealing with my grief, many questions surfaced. Why him? He was so young! He was in his prime! I also wondered why mishaps seemed to always happen to those so full of life. And then the "what ifs": "What if his boss had not invited him along?" "What if he was unwell and had to miss the trip?". In time, I met those who believe that an earlier call home to our eternal resting place is attributed to a life lived abundantly on earth. In other words, we die when our work on earth is done. Eventually, we arrive at the more pertinent questions. "Where has my loved one gone?" “How is he now?” and "Will I ever see him or her again?"
Amidst the many questions, I’m thankful that there are some for which the answers are certain, as believers of Jesus Christ. Our salvation changes our perspective of life altogether and motivates us to live life differently. We are beings made in the image of God and we have a spirit. We do not cease to exist when our time on earth is up. Death isn't the end. It is a transition from our life on earth to our eternal life in heaven. While there is a temporary separation from our loved ones on earth, there will be a permanent reunion with those who have gone ahead of us to Heaven.
I know with full certainty that I will see my father again in Heaven, and till then, he is with our Heavenly Father looking down upon me. I miss my father terribly and I will never understand why God took him so early. But I believe that our God is almighty, loving and all-knowing and He has a reason for everything that happens to us. As we continue life’s journey on earth, we do so as conquerors of death, by Jesus’ blood.
Kelly Junior Chan believes firmly that strong family units, centred on God’s love and principles will be the way God does His restorative work. Married with 2 sons, Kelly currently serves in a cell group with other families of young children.