Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How do you want to die?

Again, what are your gut instincts on this question? Do you have a more considered response? What things would you like to be true about your death?

28 comments:

Lara said...

My gut instinct is to say that I want to go out quickly, without pain and long, hard goodbyes. I can't imagine what it would be like to know that I only have a few weeks to live.

After further consideration, however, I think this would be too hard on those who are left behind. I think it would be good to have enough time to say all the things that need saying. I would hate for a loved one to pass away without having a chance to tell them that I love them one last time.

Above all, I would hope that I would trust God in death, and that whatever happened would bring other people closer to God, not push them away.

kim fabricius said...

Hi Byron.

To go blithely - and with as little "unfinished business" - and I don't mean office work! - as possible!

By the way, I reckon the good Lord must be wondering, "Who is this guy Byron that's stuffing the heavenways with so many prayers from so many friends - a lot of whom have never even met him!"

Cheers,
Kim

PS: Your sermon on being human better be good, or I'm gonna feel responsible!

peter j said...

I think the german in me leans towards being able to get all your affairs in order and have all the good conversations you need to have before you die ie. tick all the boxes first.
There's also a part of me that hopes I won't have to die and Jesus will save me the bother by coming back.

Ali said...

Well, I have moments of heroics when I think I'd like to rescue someone from a burning building or stand up in Columbine High School and say I'm a Christian etc but wouldn't it be so pleasant to go to sleep here and wake up in heaven.
My own experience of death was my father having an accident on his way to work - nothing noble about it, no seeming purpose in it, no detectable glorious results (and it is tempting to go looking for tangible spiritual outworkings from such things) - so have never given much thought to how I'd actually arrange such a thing ... but perhaps I shall.
Read a book once about how when Larry Crabb's grandfather died at thirty, leaving a wife and four children, he said "Hush, God is in it". That sort of trust would be my aim.

Mister Tim said...

Gut instinct is to go quickly - and before I lose my intellect. I've watched family members deterioriate so much in old age - it was horrible. My Dad once told me to "knock him on the head" when he turned 60 to prevent that happening to him. Fortunately he changed his mind, because he turned 60 last year.

Anyway, that's my selfish side. More than that, though, I'd rather die together with my wife, so that neither of us need to deal with the grief of the other going first.

andrewE said...

When my dad died suddenly he left me with a fair amount of confusion about his faith and life. I think that when (if!) I die, I want to leave my family in no doubt about my faith. And, of course, the only way to do that is for my life to be Christ. May God allow it to be so for us all.

nicole said...

hmmm... i’ve been thinking about how to answer this for a few hours now, and all i can come up with on the 'gut instincts' level are the myriad of ways in which don't want to die!

there's something about death that really scares me, despite all i know in christ (having a severe panic/anxiety disorder probably doesn't help in the 'thinking about death rationally' stakes). i strongly suspect that it's the 'dying' part rather than the 'death' part; i don't think i really care what instrument works my demise as long as it doesn't involve too much being terrified or in pain - it's those bits that really keep me up at night! i definitely agree with mister tim that i'd prefer to die with my husband so neither or us has to deal with the grief of losing half of ourselves (although maybe our spouses had better watch out for what's in their tea if we get diagnosed with anything terminal!).

really though, for all the hypothetical smorgasboard in this grim sizzler of doom, death sucks and i'd rather not have to do it at all. that's off the menu though so i'll settle for praying that when it happens, i'll be able to face death with hope, peace and most of all joy.

Christopher said...

Not sure, but having recently flown in some small areoplanes in Laos, I thought it was going to be into the side of a mountain for me.

The Lonely Planet was less than helpful when it said that "forgein embassies avoid putting their staff on Laos Airlines" not comforting when the ticket has been bought.

On a more serious note I was reading Stanley Hauerwas' God, Medicine, and Suffering in which he said that the way we wish to die reflects a lot more about us and what we believe happens after/during death.

I am planning to quote it in full sometime on my own blog, but basically he notes that in modern times a quick and painless death is most desirable, and a slow drawnout death most horrific. However in medieval times it was the opposite as a quick death would leave no time to prepare for the "world to come" which can be worse than death if the soul is ill prepared.

Mandy said...

Gut instinct is quickly and painlessly - in my sleep would be a good option.

Having watched a peer deteriorate rapidly with a brain tumour a few years ago, and his frustration at not always being able to communicate before he died makes me wary of loosing my mental faculties before I die.

Yet the more I think about it the more I'd rather be here for Jesus return.

Drew said...

Gut instinct is to not want to...

Rebellious instinct is for slow drawnout the more to savour the victory, however bitter it may taste.

Matthew said...

While I'm still living (see Heb 11:13a NIV), i.e. not having died the inside before my body finishes its course.

Gut response: I want to die old, healthy, in my sleep and just a short while after my wife, and before all my children.

Thanks Byron - you just made me cry!

Joanna said...

This is hard to answer, because I think my gut instinct is peculiar...

During my last nowhere near death experience, (in which I "found out" that I could possibly die in the reasonably near future due to an operation) I was a little concerned for a few days, and then just a bit miffed by the lack of drama really.

I was supposed to be confronting death, and all I had was a bit of niggling uncertainty, and a lot of upset-ness at the fact that no one around me seemed able to communicate with me about it (reflection reveals this is probably because at first I told remarkably few people!)

In the end I guess I was more distraught over the weird silence that descended in most of my relationships than the prospect of death itself... But I guess that's really what death is, the being cut-off-from-relationships part...

The disclaimer to all this is that I was 16 and in the first term of my HSC year, and what person of that age and situation has clear thoughts about anything??!!

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

In my sleep, at a ripe old age, having completed most of the tasks given me by God. Hopefully, after a reunion with children, grandchildren, etc.

I'd like to think I am prepared to go whenever--I have had a couple of near death experiences--but it was easier to face death in faith and hope and without much regret when I was single and without children. (Incidentally, one of my near death experiences--week before Christmas of '84-was at the hands of a mugger. Too long a story, but I found, to my great surprise, that it was EASY to pray for my attempted murderer. I always thought that would be more difficult, but it felt incredibly natural.)

The Miner said...

My gut instinct is to die in some really dramatic, unforseen and sudden way, like falling out of a helicopter or something - preferably before I lose my intellect or my body decays too much for me to enjoy daily life any longer.

Thinking it over however, the most important thing to me is that my death be the least burdensome to my loved ones as possible. I don't want to inflict trauma upon anyone I love.

John P. said...

...with a smile on my face.

Benjamin Ady said...

My first thought was "Very soon, with my wife and children (so they don't suffer from my absence) and quickly and painlessly"


god, what a selfish bastard I am. All that just to avoid further pain. remember eccesiastes, though? He was thinking similarly, I think, with all his "it's better to be dead than alive, and best of all to have never been born."

Upon further consideration, I don't want to die ever. I want to stay physically well, and grow spiritually/intellectually/emotionally increasingly well, and live forever, and spent the forever investigating all the things that fascinate me, and the further things with which those inestigations will cause me to become fascinated, ad infinitum.

Vaughan said...

I like Edwards' resolutions when he talks about his death/Christ's return:

...
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
...
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
...
17. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
...
19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
...
43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's; agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.

Deep Furrows said...

Interesting comments. My preference for some time has been a lingering death so as to get things in order and shorten purgatory. For a long time I had a great fear of senility, but now I regard the mind as one of those non-essential friends that may well abandon me (as Good Health, etc. abandoned Everyman) in my final passage.

But as I think about it now, I would prefer that Christ make my death His own and that it be a final sign of contradiction to those who waver. I hope that Christ will make Himself near, present, to those who mourn.

I do want to live forever, but at a higher standard of living. :)

psychodougie said...

before everyone i know. funerals freak me out.
and i wouldn't know where to start with my parents many possessions.

i realise this is an incredibly selfish desire - but isn't death where we see the best and worst in people - the number of relationships (husbands/wives, parent/child, sibling, cousin) i've seen fractured, catalysed by a death, is sickening.

so if i don't have to deal with that, i'm fairly ambivalent, all things considered.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

without knowing it

One of Freedom said...

Quickly. I'm not much for goodbyes.

kim fabricius said...

It is interesting that most of us would like to go quickly and without foreknowledge, for until quite recently in the history of the church, the notion of not having the time to prepare to meet our Maker would have been considered eccentric and horrific.

Christopher said...

Here are some interesting quotes from Stanley Hauerwas dealing with these questions. He ask a similar, yet different question: what is a/the good death?

byron said...

Wow! So many fascinating responses here. I'd love to chase so many of them up, but I'm afraid I don't have time to respond to each. I am planning a follow-up post (probably the next in my 'worse than death' series) to return to this question, but just wanted to raise it first. A few have already anticipated fairly closely some of the things I'm hoping to say, but I have also been listening to some Hauerwas recently, who has been influencing my thinking about these matters, so a particular thanks to Christopher for linking to those great quotes!

felicitye said...

Not so phased about the timing factors, but I would want to die knowing that those I loved most dearly were in Christ. Sure of a reunion with them, and sure that he would be holding them and would strengthen their faith through my death.

Anonymous said...

Someone i know is dealing with this issue in a very concrete way right now - and said that his goal in his remaining time was to 'die well'. for him, that means by being prayerful about everything that's happening (not just to him, but around him and in general) and by being thankfully content to live one day at a time. its been a great gift to me to see him making these choices, and being genuinely content to rest on god's grace - even though he really rather wouldn't die.

Anonymous said...

i didn't mean you, byron, but the above might be said of you! ml

Benjamin Ady said...

god i find Edward's (or is it Edwards'?) resolutions utterly obnoxioius.