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On Death and Dying

I am no stranger to death and dying. Let me count the ways:

  • 1976– My mother succumbed to breast cancer
  • 1990– My 28 year old brother, Reuben died from Fulminant Hepatitis A
  • 1999Oscar, my 40 year old brother died of leukemia (AML- 6)
  • 2000Luijoe died from accidental drowning at a beach resort in Cebu
  • 2003Dad died of diabetes complications after being bedridden for 4 years.

Two of the above deaths were quite sudden without grief preparation of inevitable death unlike an illness where there is time to weep. I witnessed the dying and death of my mom, my son and my dad. The passing of our parents before us is a normal course in life. The passing of a young sibling and a child is not the normal course of events. It’s unimaginable.

Can you imagine the torment that the Mother Mary must have felt when she saw his dying son nailed to the cross?

maryShe is crying . She holds on to his limp body after his death. In the same light, those last few moments with my dying son are forever etched in my memory . I did not let go of my boy for more than an hour even if he was declared dead. I wanted to hold on to his warm body which I knew will be forever taken away from me.

It was years later that I realized the significance of Jesus’ death in relation to the death of my own son. For years, I often asked God “WHY? WHY MY SON? ” It must have been my struggle to accept the death of my son that I learned to see a new light in Jesus’ death. Not that my son is a savior or anything.

I learned that my son’s mission on earth ended and the choice was for me to take over whatever mission I needed to do

Every death is not an ending . It offers new beginnings, an opportunity to seek the meaning and purpose of the death.

Today as I reflect on Jesus ‘ death, I remember all the deaths in my family. I know we will be reunited one day in eternal life.

We all must face death. Perhaps we can even find grace in it. If it is our time to move on , we need not fear death. If it is nearing the time to say goodbye to a loved one, then pray that their transition be graceful and peaceful. If you have lost a loved one, know that they live on.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live” -Norman Cousins.

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