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Fear of Death

As we grow up in New Zealand, nicely tucked away in one corner of the globe, we are somewhat protected from the atrocities that go on at other latitudes and longitudes. We live comfortably in our first world economy, with first world medicine keeping our selves happy and healthy. We have a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in our second largest city, but no loss of life, and damage that can be easily controlled and repaired relative to that of Haiti or Pakistan.

We are comfortable, we are wealthy, and very rarely need to entertain the notion of death in our lives.

Yet when death comes along knocking, we are very quick to cry foul, call for an injustice, and argue that death does not belong there. Having spent significant amounts of time in the developing world where death is an ever present reality, it is a stark contrast to the absence, and almost ignorant bliss of death that we live with here in NZ.

When death does confront us, there is a painful process of avoiding and ignoring that goes on, which I think is ultimately more destructive than death itself. I am in a place where death is very much a part of my life. I live with the imminent threat of death, the fact that unless God himself intervenes, death is very much a part of my not-to-distant future. This fact makes people uncomfortable. People often chide in with remarks such as ‘but you are gonna live for a long time yet’ or often out right rebukes, telling me not to talk in such a way.

Well I’m sorry if the reality I live with offends people.

I have two options available to me. Firstly I either respond with a resolute hope, ignoring the facts, and the reality of cancer I live with, and blissfully continue my life as though nothing has happened. This on the surface sounds like a great idea, but what it actually does is breed ignorance. Ignorance in the process of death, ignorance in the fact that we all die eventually, ignorance in how to actually deal with death when it comes along knocking, as it inevitably will.

The second option, the one I have chosen is to openly embrace the fact that I am dying. I recognise it as a part of life that we all have to deal with at some stage, some sooner than others. This is not some dark and sadistic embrace of death, but rather an healthy acknowledgement of the facts as they are, and an engagement of life with this in mind. It demystifies the inevitable, as well as creates a hope in the present.

It is in view of death that my reality becomes all the more real…

It is in view of death that I am able to celebrate life to a much greater degree…

It is in view of death that priorities change, and the true meaning of my life, the one God has blessed me with becomes so much more apparent…

I find meaning in life by knowing that I am dying.

Through all of this, I ask, please don’t tell me to stop talking about the fact that I am dying. If it is a reality you cannot face, please at the very least give me the permission to face it myself.

I am after all the one who is actually dying… and I have found a peace in this all that supersedes the natural, and can arguably be called the supernatural.

I don’t like the fact that I am dying, but through the grace of God, I am okay with it, and I am at peace about it…

.. and that is more valuable than anything.

Thanks for listening…

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  1. leila
    September 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I am rebuked and now understood the perspective that long before I refuse to see.

  2. Guy
    September 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    The reason people have long been afraid of death in my view is that it brings with it all the realities of life. If perhaps the one true reality of life. You are mortal. Fragile and sustain damage. For those that have experienced death like all of us, it has been at a funeral. Sadness, loss, guilt felt by those still living that they for whatever reason didn’t do something they might have done had they known death was coming. Death to me is sadness at losing someone I want to talk to, and want to hug.

  3. Debbie
    September 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    let peace be your umpire…….after all the kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy!!! I think facing death is the ultimate reality check……I salute you Jared, for embracing the ultimate reality and for finding the Grace of God in the midst of it – we all need to learn from your example!!


  4. Wayne
    September 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jared, so often we take life for granted, letting wasted moments go by as if there will be many many more. “I find meaning in life by knowing that I am dying”… absolutely will result in a far greater and more meaningful life (ironic, isn’t it)!!

  5. September 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Hello to Jared. I am Alan Ronberg’s mother. He has shared with me his fellowship with you, that he so appreciates, and I have been impressed by you and your strength. Now I can see how you have so maturely approached the cancer which has changed your life – which you have so bravely taken head on.
    I would very much like to meet you but as you may know I live and work in England so popping around for a cuppa is not possible. The reason I would like to meet you is to hug you and to thank you for so wisely and intimately sharing your thoughts and feelings as you face your death. You are so strong and so wise.
    I think death is scary for some people and I do understand they are uncomfortable with speaking to people who are dying. If only everyone could read your testimony which you so personally share here.
    I made you a card and I am hopeful that Alan has delivered it to you. It is my way of conveying my friendship to a man I so admire – you are a legend Jared.

  6. Lorna Murray
    September 7, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Kia Ora Jared!

    Such wisdom and strength. I have been blessed to be present when a number of people embraced death in private hospitals. Each one was a thing of great beauty and spiritual presence. We are all dying, just some of us have more of an idea of when it might be. If we could learn from and hold onto your attitude, focusing on the most important things, I can’t help but believe that the world would be a better place. The pain of death is only the separation, which from a Christian perspective can be temporary anyway. There is a lesson in that pain of separation also. For those who choose not to accept God’s free gift of everlasting life, that pain of separation will be present every day. That sounds like hell to me.

  7. kristiananderson
    September 8, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I don’t fear death for myself… I know who will carry my soul when that time comes. I fear the aftermath… that my wife and young sons will have to live a life without me, with sadness in their hearts. I might not be there to see my sons win a trophy for sports or see them graduate from high school or be there to cry with them the first time a girl breaks their heart. That, for me, is unbearable heartache. Even as I type these words, the thought of leaving them brings a flood of tears to my eyes and an ache in my belly that I can’t describe.

    I wish I could put my hands on you and peel away your cancer. I wish that you could do the same thing for me. I wish I had answers for what we’re facing.

    I wish for a lot of things….

    • Jared
      September 8, 2010 at 7:30 am

      I fear the same things… 😦

  8. Yaman
    September 8, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Whoever longs to meeting GOD, then GOD also longs to meeting him/her 🙂

  9. Maree
    September 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for your honesty Jared, a lot of folk will benefit from your testimony. It really brings home the verse from Scripture “..and the peace that surpasses all understanding will guide your heart and mind in Christ Jesus” from Philippians to a reality. We will continue to support you with love and prayer as you journey through your illness. Hugs and Blessings, Maree xx

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