Never say Die.
No, that’s not a re-mix from a James Bond 007 movie.
At least, let’s not use that depressing word when there are apparently more than 200 euphemisms for death in the English language, according to LeeAundra Temescu. Have you heard of “to be in Abraham’s bosom”, or “just add maggots”, or “sleep with the Tribbles” (a Star Trek favourite)? Cute.
In Singapore, we have our own local favourites like “kick the bucket”, “conked off” and “bite the dust”. Makes death sound more manageable.
Temescu reveals some amazing information in “Things You Didn’t Know About Death”. For one, no American has died of old age since 1951. Really? Have they only been wiped out by diseases and accidents, or some catastrophe?
Wait for the other shoe to drop: “That was the year the government eliminated that classification on death certificates.” Ah, so that explains it.
Death is sad. Death is painful – both physically and emotionally. Death is oblivion. It’s a one-way door. There’s a certain finality that’s inescapable.
People die for all kinds of causes, effects and reasons. Still, death by any name does not smell any better or sweeter. Nor friendlier.
The Bible states it in a frank and direct manner: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment …” (Heb 9:27) – it’s still one death per person. And judgment comes after that.
But different people handle it their own way. Woody Allen has famously said: “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
On a parallel note, Jim Morrison (an American singer, songwriter, and poet) observed: “It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over.”
That’s only half the story.
Death still catches many people unexpectedly. Few people die at exactly the right or convenient time. Death is sad. Death is painful – both physically and emotionally. Death is oblivion. It’s a one-way door. There’s a certain finality that’s inescapable.
To me, one of the interesting expressions about death is found in the suicide note of an anonymous 15-year-old quoted on a web page: “I want to kill myself, but I don’t want to be dead. I mean, I want to be dead, but I don’t want to be dead for ever. I only want to be dead until my eighteenth birthday.”
Poor thing. He (or she) knows that life can sometimes be so insufferable that death by comparison is preferable. But not by much. So, if only death could be a type of reversible coma – a long and dreamless sleep with a built-in wake-up call.
People do not like the idea that death is an intrusion that terminates their life. But weigh the alternative – to live forever in a sinful un-regenerated condition: what a punishment, what an ordeal, like a living death. So, the Enemy’s "You will not surely die" is an outright lie (Gen 3:4).
We all eventually die but that’s not all bad.
Thanks to the Lord Jesus for through His atoning death and the shed blood on the cross, death is not a full stop but just a comma at the end of life’s sentence. And after death … to a place death cannot follow. So, Death, you will “live” up to your name – you will die indeed.
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of IMPACT Magazine
This article 'Goodbye Death, It's Your Turn To Die' is featured in the latest issue of IMPACT (Oct/Nov 2017). Subscribe today.
The Art Of Dying Well - And living well
I Almost Died - And what I learnt in the process
I Will Go To You, Anastasia - A letter to my daughter
Do Not Leave The Dead Alone - Caring to the very end
Dealing With Sudden Death - Sad but with a sense of certainty
Is It A Life Or Death Sentence?
Suicide - Is there anything left to say?
The Talk No One Wants To Have - On death and dying