Our hope in life beyond death is a hope made possible, not by some general sentimental belief in life after death, but by our participation in the life of Christ.
~ Stanley Hauerwas ~
Perform a quick Google search for “hope in death” and you’re likely receive a litany of Bible verses that believers in Jesus have hope beyond physical death. These verses may be wonderful for the average run of the mill believer, but do they apply to those who’ve lost a loved one to violent? In a sea of which few have traveled, finding peace in Christ’s death is hard to align.
Several years ago, a Pastor proclaimed Christ knows your pain. Knows? Christ knows my pain? The sarcastic part of me notes Christ never died via an AK-47 in the hands of a minor not old enough to buy a beer. Had the same teen had the beer, maybe all the subsequent pain could have been avoided. Then again, probably not. Christ never had a limb amputated, never processed of lingering mental and physical therapy required to simply get out of bed and face the world.
In times of tragedy, Buddhism is no different. For Buddhists, there’s a spin that death is part of our natural life-cycle. Many die alone. Oftentimes family members never got to say goodbye, or communicate one last time how much they were loved. Victims of mass shootings experience similar thoughts. In sudden death, trusting in some sort of universal design, we hope our loved one’s spirit remains safe and in the care of higher beings.
So, where’s the hope?
If we really loved these people, then we must try to fulfill their wishes. That’s the proper way to approach it. You see, the best way to keep a memory of that person, the best remembrance, is to see if you can carry on the wishes of that person. Their wish is for us to live.
Christ stated he is with us always, even unto the end (Matthew 28:20). But I offer an alternate meaning. It is through our faith of life that we crush the hatred of death. Live a life focused on making others proud. And in doing so, moving through the grieving process and, through our faith in living, and the love of family and friends can we begin to heal and move forward. In doing so, many will find their loved ones in many places and ways throughout the day and evening.
You will find your loved ones in a touch on the arm; a dream; a coin appearing in one’s path or a butterfly twirling about. The signs and symbols will be unique to each of us and remind us our loved ones are near. These signs remind us of the unbroken bond that we will always hold. And like Christ, they will be with us always, even unto the end.
Living life fully enriches faith, family and friends. “Living” is very Buddhist, very Christian and crushes death’s hand.