i’m really tired of death

silly subject line, i suppose. kind of a “no duh”.

i’m all for hope. really — i even want to write a book about it someday. i think it’s the single-most critical piece of a fulfilled human existance.

but friday was ann’s death.
sunday morning kyle died.
sunday was the yac-death anniversary.
yesterday, a good friend had some kind of a breakdown, coming off a season of stress, including the death of his father.
just now, one of my co-workers left the office to grab a flight to visit his mom who had emergency stints put in to free up some blocked arteries (not death, but in this week, it feels like the same sphere).

i believe all the “in a better place” crap. really, i do. it just torques me to no end when people offer that kind of ‘advice’ or ‘comfort’ in the face of immeasurable pain. it’s really guilting, not offering hope. it gives the receiver two horrible choices:
1. “i do not feel the hope you are suggesting; all i feel is pain, and maybe even anger. must be that i don’t have the attitude a christian should have.”
2. “i reject your attempt to comfort me, because it’s not helpful at this time.”

look — when one of my parents dies (which, i suppose, is inevitable), or my wife or one of my children, or even one of my close friends: please do not tell me i’ll see them in heaven. i know that. tell me you love me. tell me you’ll stand with me. or tell me nothing and just be with me. (doug pagitt, mark scandrette and thom olson were the most amazing example of this to me when yac died: they flew into town for the weekend of the memorial service, just to support me in any way they could — running errands, telling me jokes, pouring me another glass of wine.)

ok — all that got a bit off track. i didn’t mean this to be a rant about how not to comfort people in mourning.

i’m just really tired of death this morning. that was my point.

10 thoughts on “i’m really tired of death”

  1. I totally agree with you, Marko! I am in a mixed small group and while we were in Sacramento the aunt of one the men in my group died. In our group a couple weeks ago he talked about being guilty for not saying anything…for just being there. We reassured him that was the BEST thing because all the cliche garbage is just annoying and not helpful in the moment. Having someone simply there in the moment means so much more.

  2. Marko, I hear you. Some days/months/years feel like living in Genesis 5. …and then s/he died. I think I could make money writing a book called, “What not to say at a funeral.” With you in silence.

  3. Your post immediately reminded me of some advice written by a mourner to those who were trying to comfort her. It really is excellent and well-worth bookmarking.

    Things I need by Stacey Waspe

    I recently had to support one of our young group members when one of their close relatives died whilst we were away at Camp. I wish I’d read Stacey’s advice beforehand.

    God bless you…

  4. This is so good. Sometimes mourners don’t want/need advice…reminds me of Job’s friends (you know, in the bible ;)) just sitting with him in silence during his struggle.

    “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

    We’re always so quick to offer advice to mend the situation and make it “all better” but sometimes making it all better just takes time (and tears!) not a command or advice.

  5. i have to tell you marko, if i may get a little “selfish” here for a moment: i’ve really been encouraged and moved by your transparency over the last week or so. this makes me miss getting to share in ministry with you…especially since my life is slightly less distracted than it was seven years ago. i look forward to the day when our paths might cross again. thanks for your continuing ministry.

  6. I promised myself I’d never post on any blog but my own, and then this. Marko, you nailed it. Listen, here’s what happened to me:

    I’ll tell ya, you think you have about one million believing friends. But let an abusive parent up and die, and you’ll be joining The Friends of the Friendless right along with Lucy Ricardo. I didn’t get so much as a crappy drugstore card in the mail. Christians were a minor but constant letdown in my life, making me feel like I imagine rich folks must feel the day after Christmas; and I was kinda used to their flakey absenteeism by this stage of the Faith. It was just annoying, like fruitflies. But hardcore grieving was a brand new gig for me. I just needed to not be alone; I needed some pals to just kind of sit there and watch me goof around with his ashes. I mean, I was sucker-punched and immediately went down for the count.

    So anyhow there was only this *one* Christian family who had the balls to enter my mixed bag of grief– they live on our mountain– we hadn’t even been friends very long– but they all came over bearing huge hoagies (I grew up outside of Phillly; you native Californians call them “submarine sandwiches”). What’s more, the husband brought his banjo. They didn’t give a hoot that I was putting away the Guinness. They just gave me this big hoagie and let me sob incoherently about everything; and the husband played his banjo, God bless him.

    True Christian love at its finest. I’ll never forget it.

  7. Job’s friends sat with him for seven days without saying a word. Offer presence not silence. It helps.

  8. Last Saturday (October 29th) my grandmother passed away … I know she’s with God, but I did get sick of the pastor saying the funeral was a celebration. Even when you know someone is going somewhere better, you don’t celebrate saying goodbye. Just adding my voice to the chorus of people saying you nailed it. : )

  9. hey marko…how very odd that i picked up on your blog 2nite. i watched the movie “save the last dance” and balled my eyes out because of the girl losing her mother. Remember when you broke the mug max made for you because you set it on the skinny wall partition in the marketing office cuz I was balling in my offie at ys? again, I am so sorry… karla told me she had a similar event with you??? how funnie…I do miss ya’ll still. Lemmeno what is up and give all ys a big sqeeze for moi.

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