The Good Death

June 11, 2013

Peter Ilgenfritz

"When clouds are full, they empty rain on the earth." - Ecclesiastes 11:3

Roger died on a recent Monday night, and though it sounds strange to say, he died a good death, for yes, if death comes to us all, why can't it sometimes be "good"?

Not to say that there has not been grief and the ache of deep missing, the empty rooms and things packed away that will never be shared again.  No, not mine to "judge" what such a death means, but only to witness the goodness I have seen:

For the past three months since he sat propped in his hospital bed and was told of his cancer for which there was no cure, Roger has been emptying his life in forgiveness, thank you, love and good-bye.

Remarkable really, to witness his path, as he summoned family and friends for the conversations he needed, the release of words, deeds, many long since forgotten.

Privilege really, to walk in and out of the home of care his family had made - his recliner by the window, the feeder outside and songbirds praising.

To witness amidst all the fluttering and duty, a stilling, quieting as well - the sharing of memories, and holding of hands.

For some, there will be no time like this. So many other deaths full of other words than "good" -  but a wrenching out of life, with no time for kind words and a parting kiss.

No, we do not often get to choose - but what if today we did?  Chose here, among the living, with so many deaths before us - that in all the filling of today might be an emptying as well of forgiveness, thank you, love and good-bye.

Prayer

Amidst all the filling, today, an emptying.  Amen.

About the Author
Peter Ilgenfritz is a Minister and Member of the Leadership Staff at University Congregational United Church of Christ, Seattle, Washington.
Before You Die: Reflections and Resources - NEW from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group. Order here.
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