Thoughts on the Death of my Grandmother
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 12:30 PM [+]
Shortly after receiving news of my Grandma's repose, I was compelled to put into words my thoughts at that moment. I have edited the tense of the words in order to better correspond to the timing of this post. While we knew that she did not have a whole lot of time left with us, we were none-the-less suprised by the rapidity with which she deteriorated. She was a wonderful woman and in keeping with the Orthodox Tradition here at our family Icon corner we will remember her in prayer for 40 days after her death and then on the anniversary each year after - like we do the Saints of the Church. It is fitting to do so.
May her memory be eternal!
I am a man trained modestly both in science and religion. Some may perceive this as paradoxical, and in contemplating this assumed bipolarity, I have come to believe that generally science tells me what the world is like, while religion tells me what the world should be like. And in the matter of death, which now comes all to close to home, I hear both the voices of science and religion affirming their respective places in my life.
Yes, my Grandmother is dead, science affirms and verifies this…but the Christian religion resolutely affirms that though this IS the case, it SHOULD NOT be the case. I cringe at the concept of a “natural death” for while science and our culture may embrace the term, Christianity rejects its notion outright and so I patently refuse to use the term and will ALWAYS correct any Christian we mistakenly employs it.
Death is terrible, it is profoundly lamentable, and - we are told (though I think we needn’t be) that - it is our enemy. And while science continues to fight this enemy, Christianity already claims victory over it, a victory however that is not yet fully manifested. Thus we endure the death of our loved ones.
Personally, I am reminded of and take great comfort in the story related to us through the Holy Gospels in which Jesus, when confronted with the news of his friend Lazarus’ death, wept. He wept, though He was God…He wept, though He knew in just a few paragraphs time He would bring His friend back from the dead! Amazing. The fact that God weeps over death gives us license to do the same, no? Balance is essential…we celebrate my Grandmother’s wonderful life and yet we mourn it’s unnatural conclusion. Meanwhile, we are reminded of our own mortality and hopefully will leave this situation with resolution to live and to love as Grandma did.
I did not know her as well as I should have…truly I lament over the geographic distance and financial circumstances which resulted in all too infrequent occasions for visiting. None-the-less, I recall a wonderful woman who was deeply kind, giving, hospitable, self-sacrificing, and loving. She was not fabulously wealthy, highly educated, or famous; She wrote no great works of literature nor accomplished any great discoveries in science. She was a simple and ordinary human being and those of us privileged enough to know her, we are her grand opus. She was, is, and ever shall be to me an example of holiness, as I understand the term and my children will ever be told of their grandmother’s extraordinariness. Though the world sees it not.
Adhering to a religious faith which asserts that the “last shall be first” and the “meek shall inherit the earth”, I expect to see great things from Grandma when Christ’s kingdom is fully realized.
Like Christ we may weep now but as that ancient Christian Creed from Nicea reminds us, we “look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” I look forward, with faith, to that time when my boys will get to meet their Great Grandmother and we will all be able to sing, with absolute fullness, that great Paschal hymn:
Christ is Risen from the Dead
Trampling down Death, by Death
And upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.
Grandma – Ann Price - may your memory be eternal.