A particularly important part of my job is to explain thoroughly difficult, seemingly inexplicable things to people… particularly in situations when one just doesn’t have sensible answers. Death is a great one when it comes to providing explanations for very tricky and tragic situations. Funerals are a vital part of my work. I believe that they are significant because one is compelled, if one can, to make ceremonies for the dead meaningful, healing and beautiful, particularly when so many celebrants and priests do them so spectacularly badly. Explaining why a 23-year-old boy has died in an accident to his parents, who have no faith at all, is difficult. It is in these moments of grief that one treads very carefully, and spends a lot of time listening, and seeking to understand… Inevitably one’s faith view may be sought (as a minister) and it’s then that one must resort to the truth as one sees it. So when the grieving parents of the boy wanted to talk, I found myself saying – “There is no explanation for his death, because we have none. No person will have one. You don’t need to search for one… But I believe, and you are most welcome to disagree… that one day… at some point… you might just find yourself saying ‘Oh that’s why he died!’” What I omitted to say… is that… usually… it’s only when one is facing death oneself, or having an NDE – Near Death Experience – the reason as to why such things ever happened, becomes clear.
Confronted by real grief, it doesn’t make much sense to sit down and talk about reincarnation, the discoveries regarding past lives, or the tremendous body of research by the likes of Ian Stevenson, Hans tenDam, Helen Wambach or the books of Michael Newton on life between lives. Yet having this information and not giving it away when people are seeking to understand death seems to be a bit like withholding food from someone who is very hungry. The problem is, that grief can create walls around people, and one has to be skilled at dismantling those walls, very lovingly and carefully, bit-by-bit, in order to get through. Sadly, there are some people who will never, ever allow their walls of grief and loss to be dismantled, and this is understandable, particularly when it comes to the loss of a child. Being human is a tough undertaking, for just about all of us.