Monday, October 9, 2017

When Death Comes Suddenly

Her name was Rosemary, but her friends called her Rosie. In our youth, Rosie and I ran in the same circles. She was exceptionally beautiful. Although our lives went in different directions, our families knew each other through the years. 

Rosie turned 60 last month and had just retired. Healthy and active and an avid tennis player, she had a husband, two sons, and five grandchildren that I'm sure she adored. 

On Friday, she went to sleep and never woke up. Death came and snatched her away, leaving her family and friends devastated and shocked.

Hearing of Rosie's unexpected death over the weekend left me shaken and contemplating my own mortality. Most people are uncomfortable talking about death, but it’s a natural part of life. We live. We will die. Some sooner than others, but we all have an appointment with death. It would do us well to think about this from time to time.

I remember when my daughter was 10, we got the call to come to the bedside of my husband’s mother. Mildred was dying. It would be the first time that my child would see death so close-up. A few well-meaning friends worried about her seeing her grandmother in “that” condition, but I have long believed that children should not be shielded from the reality of death. It's as much a part of life as being born.

Prior to our trip, I tried to prepare her for what she would encounter. Her grandmother was moving on to the next phase of her life, I told her. A phase we know little of, but fully expect to discover. Mee Maw had been faithful to her family all of these years, and now we would be with her until the end. God would carry her from there.

When we walked into the hospital room, Anna gripped my hand. It shocked her to see the grandmother she adored so frail and unresponsive. But once her initial distress passed, she relaxed. We took turns holding Mildred’s hand, telling her, as best we could, how much she’d meant to us through the years.

In my mother-in-law’s final hours, I watched as her granddaughter sat bravely beside her, singing in tearful sobs, “I just called to say ‘I love you.’” The image of the two of them—one so alive, the other one fading away—was agonizing to watch, but it’s an image I cherish, even now.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I don’t believe death is the end. I believe it is the end of our mortal lives, yes, but only a pause between this life and the life to come.

The Apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

No wonder Paul concluded his writing by saying, “Comfort one another with these words,” for I can think of no words more comforting.



  1. I'm so sorry about your friend Dayle. This is beautifully written, thank you for sharing. You may have heard this C.S. Lewis quote about heaven:
    "Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." Praying God comforts you and Rosie's family at this time. ~ Abby

  2. What a lovely tribute to your friend Rosie. From your post I can tell she lived life to the fullest and I'm sure she would be pleased with your thoughtful words about her. Losing a friend or a loved one is never easy, but words of comfort bring hope. As a Christian, I agree death is not the end. Thanks for sharing your memories of your friend and your mother-in-law's passing.

  3. I am so sorry about the sudden loss of your friend. I am not sure which is harder...watching a loved one dye a long, anguished, agonizing death or getting news that they left suddenly, without suffering. Either is so hard on the ones left behind, but as the Apostle Paul said, if the person is ready to meet God, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. May God comfort all who mourn.

  4. So sorry to hear about your friend. Praying You sense the peace and comfort that comes from God!
    The same thing happened to someone we know a few weeks ago. This wife/mother/grandma age 56 slipped from this world to the next in her sleep as well without any warning!
    It really does drive home the realization of our own mortality and oh, I love the quote by C.S. Lewis shared in the comment from LBB.

  5. Dear Dayle...Oh my goodness. Tears filled my eyes when I read this. Death is so hard, even though we know it is something we will all face. Your friend's family must be so devastated and she was so young! But you know what? At least she was spared life in a nursing home or worse. May she soar with the angels! Hugs. Susan

  6. I am sorry for your friend's family and you, too. It is always hard when we lost a contemporary. It brings the reality of death close up and personal. Some of us are ready but many, many more are afraid and wonder about the 'what if's' I guess your friend knows now- there are no more 'what-if's' in her life. I pray she was a believer and is surrounded by glory and the brightness of the beyond. xo Diana

  7. I'm so very sorry, Dayle.
    Your bringing Anna to her mee-maw's bedside was wrenching, I'm sure ... but I'm sure it was better than what her little imagination might have conjured. What a gift by example!

  8. You are both compassionate and wise. I too believe death should not be hidden from children. As my Prince Charming was dying we never left him alone- as the end came he was literally surrounded in our bedroom by family. We took turns talking, sometimes whispering to him then praying and some reading something they had written to him. We talked, we prayed, we sang. I later c-alled it a Magnificant Send off. We all cherish every moment. So much better than being shielded from the reality -

  9. Visiting from Carol and Our Sears Kit Home and so very glad I'm here. Yes to allowing/teaching children death is life in the hereafter. As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends it's our job to prepare us/them for that glorious heavenly reunion. Dave, my husband, died suddenly of a heart attack; it's been almost six long, hard years of God preparing me for the next thing.
    God has a plan for our good and His glory; keep the faith.

  10. I'm sorry about your friend. Knowing Jesus, and knowing that we will see our loved ones in Christ again takes the sting out of death. xo


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