On a serious and sober note today, apart from what is happening in the world, I want to talk about something closer to home. There are people grieving the loss of a loved one. As a parent and grandparent, many people my age are somewhat accustomed to hearing about peers who have succumbed to sickness followed by death. For families who have loved ones serving in the military, there is always the fear of receiving that call telling them of their loved one dying in battle.
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As a minister for over 51 years, many times I have received the call about a person involved in an accident or news of a diagnosis of a terminal disease. In recent weeks, I have been involved in conducting funerals for people advanced in years. I will say no matter at what age a person departs this life, it is never easy for the family and friends who are left. There is a real time of grief and sorrow upon the death of a loved one. Recently, I was in Nashville, Tenn. when a friend received a call that his father had died. The father was advanced in years and had recently been moved into assisted living as he was no longer able to live without help with daily needs. The response from my friend was to indicate that the death was not unexpected although there was registered sorrow in his passing.
What does one do, however, when a child dies before the parents? What does a family do when they receive the call their child has been involved in an accident leaving them paralyzed? Neither of these has occurred in my family, but I have stood with many people when they receive such terrible news. I have had close family members to die, but none younger than me up to this point.
There are many conclusions to be drawn from such events. One is that life is short and no one is promised another breath. Another reality is that life is not fair. Still another conclusion is that even in the midst of pain, suffering, sorrow, and death, we can come to appreciate and understand relationships at a deeper level. It is when sudden death overtakes a young person that causes all of us to pause and reflect upon life and how we are to live, as is the example set by the young high school teen that recently died suddenly. He had already made a decision to give life to others upon his death. Being an organ donor, others will be allowed to live longer because of the unselfish decision this young man made. I affirm this unselfish and giving spirit demonstrated by this young person to think beyond himself to contribute to the quality of and longevity of other’s lives.
From where I stand, this teen set an example all of us should seek to live up to as he gave unselfishly to others in life and death.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr