What is dying? I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, "She is gone." Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination. The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout, "there she comes" – and that is dying.
-- Bishop Brent from All in the End is Harvest: An anthology for those who grieve, edited by Agnes Whitake
There is so much we don't know about life. There is even more we don't know about death. As a Christian, I'm clear in my understanding that death is only something that happens to my earthly body, and that the the real me is then free to live in heaven with the God who created me, and the Savior who redeemed me by paying the price for all of my sin. I don't fear death---but I fear the process. I don't fear being with Jesus, but I fear the journey to get there.
But then I read something like what Bishop Brent wrote and I'm reminded of watching my Mom pass from this life to the next. She had been sick for five years and was very ready to go. I stood by her bed and read Psalm 23 out loud to her as her breathing became more and more shallow..."surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever". My eyes shifted from my Bible to her face and I said, "Mom, you're going to dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" It was only then that I realized she was no longer breathing. Her big blue eyes were open wide and there was a look of surprised delight on her face that I'll never forget. She seemed to be looking past me as if someone else had come into the room. As I closed her eyes I knew someone had---Jesus had come to take her by the hand so she could board the ship for heaven, her true home. As she sailed from my sight, she reached the shore of safe harbor where all those who had known her, loved her, and gone before her were waiting to welcome her. The look on her face was evidence that even the journey could be sweet.
If dying is to be released to be with the Lord forever, and if He comes to take the journey with me, then there is nothing to fear, is there?