Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 31, 2005
Death is part of life's cycle
Reconciliation with God, people brings great joy, peace
By BILL GLEN
"We need to expose ourselves to death and really live it."
- Fr. Mike Mireau
"I think it's true for many of us that it isn't death we fear, but the dying."
Accepting death as a part of life is difficult for some because society encourages us to be in denial, says Father Mike Mireau.
"It's a problem because our culture glorifies youth. It hides aging and illness although it is part of our human experience," said Mireau, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Leduc.
"We need to expose ourselves to death and really live it. When someone dies, we need to live it and not be in denial. We need to feel it and not scurry around fearing our emotions."
Life is a celebration of a cycle, he said.
"Jesus has made the life cycle not end with death. He altered it through his own resurrection.
"We celebrate his resurrection with every funeral."
Mireau tells people who have lost someone that they can now be even closer to the person who has died than when he or she was alive.
He recalled a vigil where the eulogist began to break down. Mireau considered praying for him to give him the strength to continue.
"Then I realized I needed to pray for him to have the strength and courage to break down and be vulnerable. That is when people can help him."
If a person was told he was about to die, Mireau would just listen to what he had to say. He said offering any advice would be difficult until you encounter the situation yourself.
Father John Hesse agrees. The best thing he could do for someone who was told his or her life was about to end was to simply be present as a witness to the love of Jesus.
"Our two main enemies are sin and death. I think there is a certain amount of fear in everybody's heart," said Hesse, a recently retired pastor.
"Our faith in Jesus reminds us he came for that very purpose to give us victory over sin and death. Love drives out all fear if we see the sufferings of the present are not worth the glory that is to come.
"Faith in resurrection and life after death is one of our greatest assets," he said.
Apart from addressing legal and financial issues, McCaffery has noticed a trend where people have begun to plan their funeral arrangements while in the prime of their lives. The intent is to provide themselves with peace of mind knowing there will eventually be a joyous event.
"While a lot of people I know still fear to acknowledge the moment, more and more people want to have a real celebration of their lives," McCaffery said. "People are planning the readings and the hymns for their own funerals earlier in their lives.
"This is also a way for them to prepare spiritually."
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