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Deadly serious

War Cry comments on death

As a society, we aren't keen to talk about death

ONE piece of tongue-in-cheek advice a church minister gave to grooms before he conducted their wedding was this: ‘There are only two occasions when it is acceptable to wake your wife in the morning. One is if it has snowed. The other is when someone famous has died.’

This year, with the deaths of well-known individuals such as Ken Dodd, Stephen Hawking, Eric Bristow and Winnie Madikizela- Mandela, there have been plenty of opportunities for such advice to be put into practice.

Sometimes it is only when a celebrity dies that death is spoken about – but often that is only in terms of our memories of their life and work rather than death itself.

This week is Dying Matters Awareness Week, which aims to highlight the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement.

Yet the truth is that, as a society, we aren’t keen to talk about death – until we have to.

Nearly three years ago Kate Bowler was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer and, at the age of 35, was expected to live for no longer than two years. In an interview in this week’s issue of The War Cry she says: ‘I felt that my life was only just getting started and yet suddenly I was having to contemplate its conclusion.’

Kate wrote a book about her situation, exploring how to cope with terminal illness. After its publication, she received messages from other people experiencing suffering who were longing to talk to someone about death.

There is a place – and a need – for us all to have the opportunity to talk about death.

As a society, we seem content to talk about money, politics and even sex. We need to be as comfortable talking about our demise as well. It’s not going to go away just because we ignore it.

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