As for mortals, their days are like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field …
A recent manual in the “death care” industry notes that “certain words and phrases long associated with cemeteries sometimes increase sales resistance because they suggest images of a negative, morbid and depressing nature.” The manual recommends a new vocabulary. Undertakers are called “funeral directors.” The deceased are carried in a “casket coach,” not a hearse. The “loved one” (never corpse) is to be shown in a “reposing room,” not a showroom. People used to be buried in graveyards, now called “memorial parks.” It continues, “The word death should be avoided if at all possible.”
Woody Allen has said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Ernest Becker wrote, “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human … like nothing else.”
Most of us try to outsmart death. We join the local health club and apply facial creams and hair coloring. Some of us get surgery; others move to a healthier city.
Psalm 103 compares us to a week–old floral arrangement. We fade. But rather than recommend a new health plan, it points us to God’s compassion and love.
Puppy love ends. Parental love ends. Marital love ends. Our lives end. But God’s love never ends. To those of us who are reluctant to say “death,” God teaches us another word, his word: love.
Father, teach us to number our days so that we may have a heart of wisdom. May we look forward to death as the moment when we enter fully into your presence. In Jesus, Amen
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