When I was growing up, death was a part of life. I didn’t realize it then, but I learned a lot in that little town from my parents and those around me. Mostly what I learned is that death is important, especially for those left living.
Maybe that seems contradictory, but I’ve been to enough funerals to know that although they say you go to “pay your respects to the one who died,” you really go to embrace those closest to the one who has died because they need you now more than ever.
Death is a tough thing. It just is. In the ensuing years since my growing up period, I have experienced death in many ways. I have lost my brother and my brother-in-law. I have lost a father-in-law, one really great friend, and all of my grandparents. I have also witnessed the death of “once-removeds” such as three uncles, multiple friends of friends as well as multiple animals my children have lost. And one thing I have learned: Death never gets easier.
Yes, there are some deaths that are easier than others. For example, my grandmother was 89 years old when she passed away. She had lived a good and blessed life. She had left a legacy of children and grandchildren. Hers was a life well-lived. And still, it was hard. The shock of her being gone, the decisions that had to be made, the total upheaval of life during the funeral week–they all take their toll.
Then there are those that are simply heart-wrenching. The son who dies suddenly in a car accident, the suicide of a young father, the victim of cancer who dies at 20-years-old–these shatter our sense not just of life but of fairness and right. We are angry–sometimes with nowhere to go with that anger. We are in sorrow, we are in shock. And yet, all those decisions, all that upheaval of schedules and life must be dealt with as well. It can be extremely difficult.
In many ways death forces us to grow up, to reckon just for a moment with the fact that this life is not all there is, or to question if it is. Death brings life into focus in a way I’m not sure that anything else does. It robs us of sleep and normalcy. It steals our thoughts and our comfort. It kidnaps our sanity so that it feels like the heartache will go on forever and how can anything ever feel normal again?
For me, going through this process with people around me growing up taught me how difficult it is–for everyone. However, so many people in our world today don’t get that training. They don’t go to funerals of loved ones because Uncle Sal lived 2,000 miles away and they really never knew him all that well anyway. Death kind of becomes a “once removed” thing in our lives. Yes, we know it exists, but we assume it’s going to stay WAY OVER THERE away from us forever.
But that is not reality, and when the reality of the death of someone very close to us comes, we find ourselves completely unprepared.
That’s what happens with Ben Warren in “Coming Undone.” He thinks he has life altogether. He’s got the great apartment and the great job. All the girls are crazy about him. He’s living life for himself, and that’s perfectly wonderful with him until…
When Ben’s world is shatter by news he never saw coming, he is forced to face life in a way he’s never had to before, and that reality rips his world apart and then reassembles it in a way he could never have envisioned.
I’ve had people tell me that they “still sniffle” when they think about this book. That’s okay. Death will do that to you. My hope is that in reading “Coming Undone” those who have lost close loved ones will see that their struggles were not odd or stupid, that those who say “get over it” have no real understanding of how deeply death can cut. And maybe, just maybe they can find some peace in God’s healing mercy as Ben does.
I once heard someone say, “Life goes on, but death does too.” I simply want to give people a depth of understanding about death and how hard it is so that maybe they can learn compassion for others who have lost someone or for themselves when death shows up for someone they love.
It’s not meant to be morbid. It’s meant to be real. “Coming Undone” because broken was never in his plans…