The Reality of Death

By Fr. Daniel Shaba


Why do we use alternative words for death when expressing that someone has died? I have
noticed that many people use terms such as: passed away, departed from with world, and phrases
alike. Why do we shy away from saying that this person died? I’m not sure I necessarily have an
answer to these questions, but one this is certain, these questions reveal a lot about the human
person. We do not like to talk about death, we try avoiding funerals, we will use excuses to not
go to the graveside service of a burial, but the question still stands, why? When we speak of
death, we are acknowledging a reality that is inevitable to every created being. Death is the end
of corporeal existence in which we are to accept the way we lived our lives up to that point.
In the Gospel reading for this weekend, John 14:1-7 strikes the core of this topic. We read
this: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.  2  In my Father’s house
are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for
you?  3  And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may be also.  4  And you know the way where I am going.”  5  Thomas said to
him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  6  Jesus said to
him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.  7  If you
had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen

him.” In the original Greek, the word troubled is referring particularly to the fear of death. Jesus
is acknowledging that there are some or even many that fear death. He does not appeal to their
emotions by telling them to not think about death because it may be intimidating. Instead, Jesus
expounds as to why death should not be intimidating. By believing in the Father and the Son, we
open our souls to the reality of what awaits us when we die. Jesus gives us imagery of these
rooms that await the believer and how we should look towards this reality rather than the fear of
leaving this temporal world. This is what it means to be a Christian, to live a life outside of
ourselves that involves our lives being ordered to our final end: contemplation of God.