Death is never easy to face, so we avoid it. We keep aging at bay with creams and dyes and never talk of preparing for death. We dodge it in subtle ways by choosing artificial flowers over real ones because they last longer. We use oil-filled containers that look like candlesticks because they’re less messy and will never burn down. Even in our funeral rites, we stay far away from it. We roll the casket down the aisle instead of sharing the burden of death with one another. We avoid touching or kissing the casket as we walk by it in the church. We do not practice or encourage the Church’s home rituals of gathering with the body. At the graveside, we mask the mound of dirt with fake grass, toss butterflies instead of soil, and leave before the body is lowered into the ground or sealed in the crypt.Let us help our communities embrace Sister Death and practice well the ways of grief, for death is the heart of the paschal mystery. Click To Tweet
Author and chaplain Kate Braestrup says, “Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy. And after all these mortal human years, love is up to the challenge” (“The Moth” podcast, May 30, 2015). As people of ritual and the resurrection, let us help our communities embrace Sister Death and practice well the ways of grief, for death is the heart of the paschal mystery.