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Death and Grief

Thursday 1 January 1970, 01:00
By Andrew Ireland

Andrew Ireland - The new Wincanton Baptist Church PastorThe move to Wincanton at the end of July was bracketed by the deaths of my mother and father, which has led to my thinking a great deal about the processes of dying and grieving. As a minister I've had the privilege of walking with a number of people through the processes of dying and grieving, but nothing prepares you for it personally.

My mother suffered from Alzheimer's and Dad from various consequences of smoking too much when younger. Watching them decline did generate many questions. Why should this happen to such good people...Christians? Yet as I looked on Mum seemed so at peace in her own world, whilst taking an interest in what was going on around her, there was a sense of God's presence and His timing. With Dad, he was not happy that he couldn't see and to an extent gave up, because he felt what gave his life meaning had been taken away from him. Yet, he too received amazing care from the staff in the Residential Home, where they both lived for the last four years. He was able to joke with them and moan about the quality of the bread - he had been a Master Baker and Confectioner. He was able to chat with his grandsons, of whom he was proud. We could have been angry that Dad was sent to hospital after he, the family and the manager of the Residential Home had agreed this should not happen, yet the doctor was acting with Dad's best interests at heart. No one had realised how ill he was.

In both cases the decision was taken to stop treatment and move to palliative care. Amazingly neither needed the painkillers, which are usually associated with the final stages of life in such cases.

I do miss them both and yet since their passing, memories long forgotten have come to the fore and there has been a fuller awareness of our lives together, and I am sure this will continue. There have already been times when feelings of loss have broken in and affected my response in certain situations in unexpected ways. I am sure there will be many more.

Losing an elderly parent is the right order of things, and I am sure is easier than losing a partner, brother, sister or child, but in each situation there is death and grief.

God knows what we are going through because when Jesus was at the tomb of a close friend, with the man's two sisters, he wept. The full story is to be found in John 11. He also must have grieved for His Son, Jesus, whilst he suffered in agony on the cross to defeat sin and even death itself.

As a Christian, I believe that because of their faith in Jesus, my parents have now been given new bodies that will not decay like their old ones and that they are now alive for ever with Jesus, because the Bible tells us that time means nothing to God - a day is as a thousand years. Time has been created for our benefit in the here and now.

Only God knows the truth about each one of us, but the Bible does say that 'God so loves the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16). I put my hope in Jesus, what about you?

If you are grieving, I suspect you have more questions than answers and are experiencing unexpected reactions to things. I know that I am just beginning the process, but if you want to talk these things through then why not come along to the 'Listening Ear' coffee morning  at Wincanton Baptist Church on the third Thursday of every month - 10:30am - 12 noon. There will be people there who are trained to listen if you would like to talk about the loss of a family member or friend. If you cannot wait then please just get in touch and we can arrange an appointment, or just drop in to the church office, if the gates are open.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:5).

The next 'Listening Ear' will be on Thursday 15th October.

Contact details: Tel: 01963 34477, or

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