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When Life Meets Death is a book of stories from people who have faced the ordinary, yet overwhelming, experience of the death of a loved one. Some are the stories of the author’s own loss and others are based on his professional experience as a chaplain. This book ‘tells the story’from the perspective of those who are immersed in the experience. Some of these stories are as common as the expected death of an elderly and ailing parent, while others are as traumatic as the loss of a loved one in the Oklahoma City bombing disaster. They are not objective truths about death so much as they are tales about the meaning and the mystery of people who must face the death of someone they love.There are a number of ways to tell the truth about life, but no way is more powerful than the use of story. There are some human experiences that are too deep for words--only the majesty of a story can point to their meaning. The moment of death is such a time. The stories in When Life Meets Death are categorized into four sections that represent different times along the continuum of the experience of death. These include:
On the Way--the time prior to death when, perhaps for the first time, the truth of this final reality is evident and the sacredness of life is made clear
At the Moment--the transition from life to eternity is a time of good-byes--tells the tale of what it is like to say this final good-bye
When Death is Traumatic--traumatic death is horrible for the one who dies, and it leaves the survivors with conflicting feelings of grief, anger, and futility
When It’s Over--the process of finding a “new normal” after death and eight steps of the grieving processThere is, of course, always an explanation for death. We can verify that death occurred, how it came about, and when it happened. We need these kinds of truths. But death is never only a scientific reality. It marks the end of how one life was intricately woven into the lives of many others. This kind of truth is recorded in the stories we tell about the one who died. When Life Meets Death will disarm you so that truth and wisdom can find natural ways to enter your heart and soul. It heals even as it calls forth sorrow.
Table of Contents
I. On the Way
When Disease Ravages a Small Child
Often a Child Just Wants to Be Heard
How a Child Can Get Into Your Heart
Life’s Timetable Is Beyond Our Control
How Many More Children Must Die?
The Unknown Samaritan
A Killing Combination
A Smile Hides the Pain of Dreams Gone Away
More Yesterdays to See Than Tomorrow
Trust Even When Fog Shrouds Your Vision
I’m Still Walking Home with My Dad
Trying to Avoid Another Painful Vigil
Nothing More Important Than Dignity
Holding Hands Until the End Comes
II. At the Moment
When Life and Death Hover Together
How Do We Get the Message to Parents
When Tomorrow Comes Too Soon
For a Parent, Loss of a Child Has No Equal
Child’s Death Strips Away Veneer
With the Gentleness of the Setting Sun
A Season Out of Time
Stan Smith’s Brother
Sandwiched Between Joy and Sorrow
Finding Hope in the Midst of Suffering
When Tears Say What Words Cannot
III. When Death Is Traumatic
Unleashing Memories from the Past
A Broken City
“How Are You?” “What Was It Like?”
Returning to the Scene of an Evil Act
Between Chaos and Coffee
Nothing to Do
Helping the Helpers
Stone Cold Dead
It Hurts Too Much to Go On
IV. When It’s Over
At a Table We Shared Memories
All of Us Hurt When One of Us Hurts
Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One
Sadness, Grief Bend Us in Silent Kinship
Just a Recluse
What Matters Most is that We Are Loved
Visiting with a Few Old Memories
To Be Healed, Aches Must Be Shared
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CHOICE – Outstanding Academic Title – Award Winner
CHOICE – 2018 Outstanding Academic Title – Award Winner
Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award Winner
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