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  • James Pate

Not dead but asleep

“She’s not dead. She is asleep.”

These were the words of Jesus about a girl who was, well, dead. Except she wasn’t.

I’m writing this the day after the Queen’s funeral.

The last 11 days have brought back so many memories.

I remember being with my sister, beside my dad’s hospital bed. He had just died, while we were both out of the room. My sister said, ‘It’s not him.’ I said ‘No it’s not. Shall we go?’ And we left.

I remember being the nearest relative when my aunt died, so it fell to me to arrange the funeral. The funeral director asked me if I wanted to see her in the chapel of rest. I said I would. It didn’t look like her. It wasn’t her. I exited quickly.

When I mum died, I was asked if I wanted to see her in the chapel of rest. I declined. A helpful neighbour tried to get me to change my mind, saying I’d regret it. I knew I wouldn’t.

Your experiences and feelings will be different from mine, for people grieve in different ways.

I remember being beside a dear Christian sister, who was within hours of death. The presence of God was so powerful I didn’t want to leave. Her daughter was experiencing the same thing.

I remember the baptismal service when someone walked into the entrance lobby and dropped dead. We decided that the service should still go ahead as planned and we sang the words from Amazing Grace: ‘Yes, when this heart and flesh shall fail and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace.’

I remember the times when I had no answers. Why did that person die so young? Could we have done anything more?

I remember talking with a family when a child asked why they were crying. “If granny is going to live with Jesus what is there to cry about?” I tried to explain that people can cry even when they believe it.

I come back to the words of Jesus. She isn’t dead. She is asleep. To Jesus, death is like falling asleep, where we commit our spirits into the hands of the Father, confident that we will rise.

“I am the resurrection and life. The one who believes in my will live even though they die. The one who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Yours thoughtfully


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