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Attitudes toward death by Joe Siefkas

Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm

By Joe Siefkas

We thrive on sensationalism, and are giddy with excitement when we see others fail and suffer.  We sensationalize death in movies and television and we sensationalize death in our communities.

Have we forgotten that death is a part of life?  As a society we have an obsession with death, or are in complete denial about death’s inevitability.  Have you noticed that there are long lines at visitations, crowds at the homes of grieving families?

Have we lost our sensitivity and empathy for those suffering from the loss of a loved one?  Is visitation for them to heal, or to satisfy our curiosity?  Imagine how difficult it is for them to endure more than 4 hours of greeting people in line.

Those that are grieving are driven by their precious sense of hospitality.  How are we teaching our children to understand mortality?  How are we teaching them how to mourn and how to comfort those that mourn?  If you are a friend of a friend, and only rarely see the family, there may be another way to express your sympathy and concern.

The Bible and our faith should be defining and shaping our personal and social attitudes toward death.  Death is not a failure, it is not a stigma.  It is a transition.  The suffering of loss, and the pain of illness is real, but only temporary.  The reward for our endurance is eternal and glorious.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power  of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our society is sensationalizing death, we are afraid of death, we don’t understand death.  Here is a suggestion, the Bible and our churches are intentionally and vocationally positioned to address our mortality.

There is truth in the Bible that will help us deal with our personal fears, and support that will allow us to help others.  There is undeniable comfort in prayer, that has an undeniable peaceful effect on our lives.

When we find selfless way to comfort each other, there is an undeniable feeling of divine satisfaction.  Find ways to comfort one another, ways  that do not impose, ways that are productive, ways that use scripture as a model.  Death is imminent, but joy is inherent.  Spread and share the joy.


Editor’s note: Joe Siefkas is a student at Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves and is pursuing his ordination. He is employed part time at Bowling Green First Presbyterian and Frankford Presbyterian Churches, as what the denomination calls a temporary supply pastor.