No one likes to be reminded of death.

It’s the elephant in the room. The dark, cloaked, scythe-wielding, skeleton elephant (or skelephant) in the room.

No one talks about it, which is strange, since we all know it’s coming. But for whatever reason, we try to forget.

The world tells us it’s “way over there—pay no mind, it’s so far away” as to be of very little interest to us.

It tells us to laugh it off.

“Eat, drink! Buy the newest thing! Watch the newest movie! Debate some meaningless bit of politics or popular culture. Fiddle away your life in an excited frenzy!”

But one day, it comes.

The strings of our fiddles snap. All of the laughs stop. Food and drink no longer satisfy. The newest movie is hauntingly empty. The debates are all at once pointless.

And it comes as a shock—even though it shouldn’t.

We know the course of life and death. We’re taught it in schools. We see graveyards all around us. But somehow, death surprises us and painfully, unfairly it dawns on us how ill-prepared we are for it.

The loss of one we’ve known intimately for years or even the death of someone we never met, but whose soul we understood, saddles us with an unbearable grief, a burden under which we buckle and can hardly stand again.

All at once our hazy life of endless revelry snaps into sharp focus, and we realize… we’re dead men walking.

One day. Some day. We will no longer exist as we know it.

One day. Some day. Our dearest friends and life’s deepest loves will draw their last breath and vanish.

Where do they go? How can it be that one moment, they are here, and the next they are gone?

In the meantime, however, we laugh at the concept of death. As the legendary troupe member of Monty Python Graham Chapman co-authored in the famed Parrot Sketch: “This is a late parrot.”

By laughing at it, we think we control it. But death comes to the witty just as surely as to the buffoonish.

As a rule, we humans baste in only half the story. We dwell on only the happy moments of life—for example, we prefer to remember the author of the parrot sketch, Graham Chapman as immortalized, frozen in time, preserved in film, as King Arthur or Brian, young and alive in every sense of the word.

“Oh yes, of course Graham Chapman died,” we think, “but that doesn’t matter… for some reason.”

Then, you see it. You come face to face with it. Graham Chapman in his final interview. Gaunt and emaciated, struggling to regain feeling in, and control of, his limbs. And, despite his circumstances—now this is what gets me—still clinging to the hope that it will all be okay and that death is a long way off.

He died shortly thereafter at 48 yrs old.

When I stop to think about it, it both surprises me and doesn’t that we as humans don’t talk about death more.

Perhaps it’s because—without faith—we are terribly without answers and without hope.

How tragic.

I find it beyond belief that each living, breathing soul I’ve met and laughed with in my life simply ceases to be. That they were strictly some fleshy accident that against the law of entropy, came into being out of some hot primordial goop by random processes into a living, eternal masterpiece of beauty and idiosyncrasy.

But that is what we’re taught. Humans are an accident. Death is natural.

And yet, with death being so ‘natural’ to us—it is still somehow so remarkably foreign. We live like we have eternity, with each day slipping effortlessly into the next until we are surprised to find a gray hair or a wrinkle.

In all the laughs, dinners, and rare moments of pure bliss in my life, I begin to wonder if we are really meant for death at all. To me, we seem more like timeless beings trapped in a world of relentless time, of tyrannical beginnings, middles, and—most cruel of all—ends.

There is something different about us. Something that makes us different than all other animals. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s inextricably linked to our awareness of the march of time.

It seems we belong to a world quite unlike our own. A world we can see in the glimmers of the shards of our broken home. Somewhere, out there, in a deeply relational sense, there’s a place where we truly belong. A place outside time and space, where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4).

A place where we are loved. A place called home.

And one day, when “the old order of things has passed away…”

…home “will wipe every tear” from our eyes. (Revelation 21:4)

People say it’s foolish to believe in this home, in life after death.

I’m often struck by the disdain or contempt people have for those with hope of an after life. Why? One would have to be a dismal person indeed to find joy in wrenching hope from another being’s breast.

And after all, what is more foolish? To live hardheartedly hopeless lives without purpose or destiny? To ignore our end and lose our lives to endless days of revelry? Or to believe that our lives have purpose and that the end of our story might be a good one. To believe in heaven with arms wide open, and all that implies.

Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash.