Death is still a taboo topic in many cultures.
A recent study indicated that the majority of people in the UK still avoid talking about death and making plans for after they die. Similarly, the Confucius’ comment – “We do not yet understand life, how could we understand death?” – reveals that he treats death as an unknown and would rather not talk about it.
In my view, dying is one of the few certainties of life. If we do not understand death, we don’t know how to live. But we tend not to talk about it because we fear the unknowns ahead. What will happen when we are dying? Is there an after-life? Does death mean the end of everything? These unknowns make death even more mysterious and scary. To conquer fear, we first have to understand what death is all about.
One of my favourite ways to explore death is visiting graveyards. I had been to graveyards in Hong Kong, Britain, Germany and the Faroe Islands. The graveyards in Hong Kong (see photos) are mostly dense and dull probably because of limited space. In the West, many graveyards are either at the churchyards or surrounded by greens. They are quite pleasant to visit. The inscriptions on the gravestones are fascinating. They sum up a person’s life in just a few words. Some of them are expressions of love and remembrance. Some speak wisdom of life.
As a Christian, death is not taboo for me but is where my hope is from. At Easter we celebrate a great God from Heaven above who chose to live and die as a human on earth. His name is Jesus and He bore the consequence of sin – death – and most importantly, conquered it by coming back to life three days after his death. Through Him, we are reconciled with God and there is no reason to fear anymore. Death means the end of the earthly life, but the beginning of an everlasting life with God.
This Easter, I hope you will think about the issue of death and look for the meaning of life.