At the start of September, my Gran passed away.  It wasn't sudden in the sense that she was almost 94 years old and had been into hospital a lot recently, but it was sudden in the sense that for me it was totally unexpected.  I fully expected to be spending boxing day with her and the rest of my family in Tasmania later this year, and in the sense that on the Monday I found out she had had a fall and by Thursday she was gone.  Her death is the first death of someone close I've experienced as an adult.  It's something that I'm processing reasonably well but slowly.

There are a number of interesting things I've noticed about my grieving process and about my faith in response to being faced with the reality of death.

1. I'm happy to talk to people from church about it, but I prefer to bring it up myself rather than have it bought up for me.  After I got back from making a trip to Tasmania to help out the family and say goodbye many from church asked me how I was.  I was thankful for this but by the end of my first Sunday back I really had to mentally prepare myself for lots of people asking me about it.  I had a desire not to dwell on it too much.

2. Places that I've been with Gran or things that I've got from Gran are precious to me, but also make me sad.  Every time for the rest of my life I go to the Virgin Blue Terminal at Melbourne Airport I will remember having coffee there with my Gran just before going on my honeymoon.  Every night when I have cold feet and I put on her bed-socks that she knitted for me I remember her sitting in her lazy-boy recliner with her knitting needles as I came and knocked on the door to say hello.  I can't remember the last thing I said to her in person, but I hope it wasn't trite.  I had just recently sent her a card thanking her for her wedding gift to us and I am sort of thankful the last thing I said to her was through a letter that I found on her card table when we went to clear out her room.

2. In death the rubber hits the road for the Christian faith.  As much as we look for how God's Kingdom might be in-breaking into the world in which we live to bring about renewal, or as much as we incarnate the Gospel in the world (or insert other buzz words and phrases here), the clear fact of the matter is the Christian faith promises that for some there is more to life than this life.  Death is either a hopeless look back at the past or a hopeful celebration of God's grace for life and ongoing life.  Sadly, and this is my biggest regret in all of it, I felt neither hope or hopelessness but ambiguity.  I never really asked my Gran what she believed, and so I do not know what happens now.  I am left to regret being too timid to talk to her and to rest on God being far more gracious than I.  But I don't know.

3. Old age, sickness and death are clear evidence for me that we do indeed live in a fallen world.  They are not nice things.  Life would be unbearable if this was all it was.

4. People do die.  Obvious thing to say right.  But until you experience it personally then death seems more like an abstract idea than a concrete concept.  That's probably partly why for many teenagers they live with such a care free attitude to unnecessary risk taking amongst other things... death is not real to them.

5. I will die one day so I ought not waste my life.  Life's too short to worry about pleasing everyone or being too cautious.  Mistakes are inevitable, being a people pleaser is inevitable (at least for me), but I think the reality of death ought spur me on to make sure I do the important things first, to make sure I am strong in areas I need to be strong and gracious where I must be gracious.