When is it ok to die?  I wondered that today as I read the obituaries.  I wondered about my own train of thought regarding the timeliness of death as I read through the lives and back stories of those that died. 

Reading through the obits I found myself making a mental, and sometimes out loud, commentary on the ages of those listed.  Wow, 102!  94, that's a long life.  88, 89, 90 that's a great life.  45, oh that must have been sudden and unexpected.  33, accident or illness shorted their life - kids aren't even raised yet, without a parent now.  21, tragic.  8, oh the grief those parents must be experiencing - no school dances, graduations, college, marriage - they were just a kid.

Why is it that we believe death to be acceptable if done in chronologics?  That doesn't mean we like it or are glad to see it come to those that chronologically are in the upper stratosphere of life.  Contrare!  Death no matter the age is a sad goodbye, period.  But there seems to be an almost understanding of our finiteness when death comes in our upward years after a long life lived.  The math equation makes sense, adds up correctly.

I commented to someone today, after learning their 94 year old grandmother had died, "So sorry to hear of your grandmother's death.  My sympathies to you and your family."  Their response was, "Thanks.  She lived a long and healthy life."  That struck me.  Death, when cast against the context of a normal lifespan, seems not as unwelcome, not as tragic as when it comes out of chronological sequence.  Death at the end of a natural lifespan is the completion of a checklist of sorts.  Death at 33 or 8 or 40 or 51 or 17 is like an unbalanced spin cycle.  It's abrupt, out of order and disconcerting.  Or, at least we view it that way. 

I wondered as I read the obituaries about what had filled the lives of those who were up in years at the time of their death.  ...What lives they had lived, things they had experienced, what peace they had made in the journey to the end?  I also wondered about those that chronologically died before a normal lifespan could be lived.  What had they left undone, what would happen to all the unfinished things in their lives - raising kids or mourning parents? How do you put closure on something that ended before it was really done?

There seems to be a slightly different feel to death when it occurs at differing points on the line of age and mortality.  In my own life there was a time when I was so chronically ill for such a long period of time that death became inviting.  I was never interested in harming myself.  Not in the least.  I was though ready to leave things in an unfinished state, to exit the chronological lifespan course and be done with living.  Living when you can't really live is not all that appealing.  How many of those obits I read were people who had fought the valiant fight against illness and disease and were glad to exit before chronologically it seemed they should. 

When is death welcome exactly?  Only at 94?  If there is a season to be born then I suppose there is a season to die.  Lifespans are human markers of time.  If God has a time for each person to be born then God must also have a time to die.  His clock runs way different than chronological time.

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