Our friend is dying. None of us talks about it. We say things like, “You look great bald! Like Jean-Luc Picard!” or “So glad your doctor is going to try to remove the tumor,” even though it’s clear that this is a last-ditch effort. Now, I can’t say what all of our spiritual beliefs are; I can only speak for myself. I believe in Heaven, that the next life is the one we’ve been hoping and praying for. So why do I — and so many of us who claim to be believers — have such a dim view of death?

Can you imagine saying to a terminally ill person, “You’re so lucky to be dying! Congratulations!” You’d be instantly ostracized, an immediate pariah. What a horrible thing to say! We want people to live. Yes, partly because we are selfish and don’t want to lose them from our lives. But also because dying is bad. Dying is the worst thing that can happen to you. It is our greatest fear.

And yet, we claim to be believers! We want to be with God forever. So where does the disconnect lie? How can we say out of one side of our mouths, “Deliver us, Oh Lord, into Your hands,” while muttering out of the other side, “I don’t want to die!”? After all, Heaven is forever. There is no death there. You just have to do it once.

Is it the unknown that frightens us, like a child in the dark who imagines the curtains have grown clawed, grasping hands? But we are people of faith. The afterlife is not supposed to be unknown to us, not if we really believe. So maybe it’s our lack of faith that’s the problem?

All I know is that no one is ready to lose our friend. Even though I feel certain that he will be going to a better place, I am sad. So, I ask you: How should a spiritual person behave in the face of death?

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