Harry Emil Lindstrom 1917 – 2012
Chris’ father died early this morning.
Chris and I arrived at Ehatare, the Estonian nursing home, at 11:30 a.m yesterday and returned back home at 11:30 last night. During the day, Vanaisa (grandfather) was surrounded with family and memories. Loving hands touched and stroked his frail body. Releasing words were spoken. Soft and comforting music played by his right ear, ushering him into the Kingdom. Angelic caregivers handled Harry’s body with dignity, skill and compassion as they said their goodbyes and lovingly led our family through the dying process. There were many tender moments.
It was a good day to be with loved ones. We told stories, we laughed and cried together. We watched Vanaisa’s labored breathing, knowing it was just a matter of time before it would stop.
This morning, we drove back to the nursing home and Vanaisa’s body was getting cold – it was but a shell. He had died. His spirit had left this world and gone to heaven. I think it was a peaceful crossing over – no extraordinary measures, no hookups to machines that prolong life, no heavy drugs. It was a good way to die. It was a good day to die. His was a beautiful death.
We spent the afternoon at the funeral home and now we’re back home again.
It’s not the first time that I’ve reflected on the truth that our society, as a whole, doesn’t do death well. Previous generations thought a lot about death. Just last week, I helped a Grade 11 student write a paper on “The Egyptians had a morbid preoccupation with death. Agree or disagree?” Historically, people did a much better job embracing death, rather than pretending it wasn’t going to happen. I suppose plague, famine and war will do that to people. Medieval Christians understood the fragility of this life and the importance of the next – they wanted to be prepared for death.
I want to be prepared for death. I realize that I have less life ahead of me than behind me now and each day seems to be taking on more importance and more intention. Losing one’s parents is a rite of practice – one is never quite the same again. Wise is he who numbers his days and understands that death is demonic and degrading, an evil intruder into God’s world and the last enemy that Jesus will destroy. ( 1 Corinthians 15.26 NIV)
Everyone is going to die but until we embrace death, we cannot fully live. There is hope because Jesus has triumphed over sin and the sting of death,in all of its aberrancy.
Harry Emil Lindstrom is indeed in a better place. It’s not just a cliché.
What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave? Psalm 89.48 NIV