There are many statements to be found in Holy Scripture and elsewhere about a Christian understanding of death. The first apostles who were martyred for their faith knew that death was a witness to the power of the resurrection. Christ took away the “sting” of death. God’s love could not be stopped by death (Romans 8:31-39, I Corinthians 15:20-23).
Jesus lives! By His triumph over death, He offers eternal life. This is the sure and certain hope of every Christian, and the Good News that it is the Church’s privilege to give to the world. Through faith, the fear of death (not the fact) is removed, and when death comes to us or to one whom we love, we have the deep joy and assurance that “in Jesus” we/they go on to a life of more perfect service beyond the grave.
For those who survive, death also brings grief, the aching sorrow of loss, the shock of disbelief, and the uncertainties and fears of lonely tomorrows without someone loved and trusted. Nowhere does our faith call upon us to deny or to ignore the whole constellation of emotions that surround death. These are a part of our human nature and are to be accepted as such.
Death also means unfamiliar and difficult decisions have to be made. The Church, as the Body of Christ and the community of Christian love, has a special ministry in preparation for and at the time of death. This is a “community” ministry. It is not simply a ministry confined to or exercised solely through the ordained minister. The total Family of God is involved in some form or other, to a greater or lesser degree.
We are provided a resource as an invitation to think, to consider, and to plan. The challenge rests on a very simple proposition: putting all of this in proper perspective, a willingness to look ahead, to share in advance, and to exercise personal responsibility can be one of the most LOVING things an individual can do.
Begin with the Church Before Death Occurs
We created resources to help you plan for death before it arrives. The more you have notified and involved your priest and members of the parish about your plans the better. Because of privacy laws, hospitals and other medical facilities do not contact the church or priest with updates about you or your loved one’s medical status. As soon as someone in your family knows about a pending hospitalization or is admitted to a medical care facility, please contact the church office, no matter what time of day this occurs. Your clergy will be glad to visit and support your family in this time of stress and will have many resources at their disposal to help you find answers to your questions and concerns.