Among people of faith, there is the notion that if you are person of deep faith you can easily renounce the things of this world, see the world for all its ephemerality, not cling to things, and die more peacefully. Not true. That is naïve, at least a lot of the time.

James Hillman writes: We don’t let go easily of the throne, nor the drive that took us there. While that is obviously true, of itself it speaks more of human ego than of faith. So let me try another line. The famed novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch, confronts us with this fact: A common soldier often dies without fear; but Jesus died afraid.  

This was borne out in the death of my own father. My dad was a man of deep faith to which his whole life gave witness. He died young, at sixty-two, in faith – but he did not die easily. There was a deep sadness in him as he lay in palliative care waiting to bid his final goodbye to the rest of us. His sadness and its concomitant fear had nothing to do with fear of the next life, of what awaited him on the other side. His sadness and fear had to do with his giving up is place in this world, of dying to all the richness that is life.

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