Death: The Other Side of the Veil

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"Death: the Other Side of the Veil" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com)

By Gunnar Bach Pedersen (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Death does not end our relationship with the deceased because those who have passed on are not lost to us. The veil between the living and the dead is thin when we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ. This might sound like a pious phrase memorized and repeated to offer shallow comfort to the grieving. However, Christians have the ability to communicate with each other in prayer when we are rooted in Christ. This is the communion of the saints who are alive in Christ in heaven, which we declare we believe in every time we repeat the Creed.

When Jesus speaks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Gospels, he explains that the Father “is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” (Matt. 22:32). Luke adds, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:38). Abraham is alive in heaven and can communicate with the rich man. Furthermore, the saints and angels see and hear what we say and pray; they are alive in God and intercede for us.

The Fear of Death

Death is usually avoided in our modern society. Most fear death and do not know how to prepare to die. It is precisely during the important process of dying that God often manages to pierce through people’s wounds and the walls they have built to shut out His love. God tries to lead people who are dying back into His heart. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us the  real meaning of a Christian death:

Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition….. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ. “. . . I am not dying; I am entering life. – CCC, n. 1009-1011

For a Christian, death is not the end but the beginning.

My Father Is Dying

And now, I face death once again in western Canada, three time zones away from my husband, nine children, and seven grandchildren with my eighty-four-year-old father who is dying, slowly fading away. At 132 lb, he is a shadow of his former self, staying in bed in a dim room with his eyes closed for 23 hours a day. Perhaps he is giving up on life because he is deaf, almost blind from macular degeneration, and is in pain all over, making even swallowing difficult. Although he is not fighting to live, he is afraid of death, of the unknown.

My father’s family left the Church after the tragic death of his mother when he was just nine years old. Even though he faced tragedy after tragedy during his life, almost always due to the failings of others, he remained an honest, good, kind man, even when living with integrity meant he suffered financial setbacks. He faithfully loved only one woman for sixty-three years, giving his all to raise his family. He is not an outwardly religious man and does not speak of his faith, so my Evangelical sister is frantic that he might not be saved. As for me, when I pray for my dad, I experience pain, tears, and joy all at the same time while entrusting him to the Mercy of God. I have to let go and surrender once again.
I have an inner sense Christ will reveal Himself to my father, perhaps at the instant before death when my dad will be free enough from childhood wounds to see and choose eternal life. God comforts me with a recurring inner vision which never fails to bring tears to my eyes.  My father is walking towards Christ who is surrounded by a semi-circle of saints clothed in white, all smiling with their arms outstretched. His mother, who died in the 1940s, steps forward as a young woman dressed in 1940s-style clothes and reaches out to embrace her son. As my dad walks closer heaven, he slowly stands more erect, grows younger and younger and begins to smile.

When my father dies, I don’t have to say goodbye but just whisper a prayerful hello as I let go of our earthly relationship and embrace a new, invisible relationship with him. God mysteriously unites all of us and I know from experience there is neither time nor distance when we live and move and breathe in the Spirit. Life and death are not as far apart as I had once presumed.

Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

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