Since the pandemic invaded our lives, we are cautioned to keep our distance from others. However, I told Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan, that I miss freely shaking hands with people and offering them hugs when they are grieving at a gravesite.
I agree with Ed that not everyone wants a hug, but some situations call for one. My old neighbour says he doesn’t wish any hugs other than from his wife and young grandchildren. He explains that with hugs, people get too close, and he feels claustrophobic, and he wants to say, “Get away from me.” Ed claims his great Aunt Nellie assaulted defenseless children with hugs and kisses while blasting them with smothering garlic breath. Her hugs traumatized him for life.
I agree with Ed that sometimes you know certain people don’t like hugs even when they are hurting with grief or worry. However, hugs should always be offered to, not forced on, a person struggling with the death of a loved one.
Death is a part of life that we tend to ignore until we are forced to face it. We may see death as what happens to other folks in any number of expected and unexpected ways. We talk about the way we want to live and the preferred way we want to die. However, death will come on its own terms to ourselves or our loved ones.
Death plays its own hand. It has no respect for person or age. God’s word confirms, “There is a time for everything … a time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2a) The Bible also states, “Man’s days are determined, (God) you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” (Job 14: 5)
Like Jimi Hendrix, we may say, “Let me live my life the way I want, ” and be very wrapped up in living life as we see fit, but that does not prevent our own death or the death of our friends or loved ones. Life is far more fragile than we think. We may be so busy doing life our way it is easy to make little effort to treat others and God with the respect and honour they deserve.
Leo Buscaglia reminds us, “Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.”
Now, before it is too late, it’s time to let go of any grudges or criticisms we hold towards others. It is always the right time for us to be responsible for loving others in the example of Jesus. He sacrificed himself for sinners, now is the time for our merciful and forgiving self-sacrifice for others.
Sadly, we may not want God to show us our life’s end and the limit to our days. Maybe we don’t want to know how fleeting our lives may become. We talk of having a bucket list of what we would like to do before we die. Usually, it isn’t about restoring broken relationships with others or with God. Who knows you love them and are glad they are in your life? Who do you still need to tell that you love them?