The organ played a slow, mournful song as we walked down the aisle of the church. Our footsteps were audible above the hushed whispers as everyone proceeded to file into the pews, sadly acknowledging each other. As I took my seat at the right of the front pew, I glanced around the room, taking in the details of the church. At the front stood the minister in her black and white robes, preparing quietly for the important sermon she was about to deliver. The leather bound bibles placed neatly on the pews. The light streaming through the stain glassed windows casting colourful shadows across the church floor. It all felt surreal.
My brain could not quite comprehend the reality of the situation and it felt as if my body had closed off the channel of emotion. The minister looked out at the congregation and asked us all to “please stand”. The organ music changed. The doors opened and the wooden coffin entered the church to the slow and gentle march. It was placed at the front of the church. I stared at it numbly as the flowers were arranged upon it. And then the reality of everything that was happening hit me as the wreath spelling out the word “Gran” came into view.
Something shifted inside me. Suddenly, a great wave of pain and sadness crashed over me like a tsunami. The icy pain of realisation spread over my entire body, causing me to shake uncontrollably as I began to recognise that my life was never going to be the same. She was never coming back. I would never feel her comforting arms around me again. I could feel the tears from my eyes stinging as they began to trickle down my face. I felt as if everyone could hear my heart crumbling inside me. A tissue was pressed into my hand by my aunt. “She’s gone to a better place,” she whispered. The lump in my throat remained but those words gave me some comfort. Maybe my gran had passed through the pearly gates and into heaven. I don’t think of myself as religious but the thought of her being in a better place helps me to
deal with her loss. I think this is the case for many people who have experienced the death of a loved one and it certainly made me wonder whether religion is, in fact, more useful than I had given it credit for.
Science is dedicated to disproving the stories and explanations present in the bible but can the facts of our universe ever give us the same reassurance, the same unbridled hope that religion can? I disregarded the Christian faith very early on, believing the facts and figures set out by those who had researched it thoroughly rather than a book written centuries ago. However, after the death of my gran, I became more susceptible to the idea of heaven and God. It was easier to think that my gran was still in existence rather than the alternative. All around the world, there are so many different religions, people argue and start wars about who is right and who is wrong but, really, when we come down to it, isn’t religion just a means of escaping the fact that, no matter how good or bad a person is, we are all going to die? Just like everyone before us. Just like everyone after us. But these beliefs, no matter whether it is taken from the Bible, the Quran or the Torah, all give us the dream that there is something better ahead of us and for our departed loved ones, no matter what evidence scientists come up with.
My gran was never afraid of death; she would always claim that when God chose to take her, he would. My Gran wasn’t an extremely religious person but she believed that her passing wouldn’t be the end, that the afterlife existed. This gave me a great comfort when she died as it reassured me that she wouldn’t have been scared. In fact, she believed that when her time did come, she would be reunited with my grandpa, who passed away a number of years before. Sometimes, I think about this and that I will see her again one day when my time comes, which, hopefully, is many years from now. I will, then, meet the people who I have lived without for a large part of my life. My faith, although acute, provides me with this
support and helps me deal with the loss as I believe that I haven’t really lost her, only been separated from her for a short while.
Time has made her death easier to bear. But I still have those moments of overwhelming emotion when painful memories come flooding back to me, making me relive her loss all over again. However, when this happens, I try to think, that if she is looking down on me, as we are told by the bible, she wouldn’t want me to cry over her death. She would want me to live my life and make something of myself. This spurs me on to achieve my goals and make my gran proud, wherever she may be.
Death is seen in two ways. There are those people who believe that death is frightening and those who believe it is a release. Those who are scared of death are usually those who have no religious belief at all, those who believe that death is the end, full stop. Then, there are those that believe that when death comes, they will be taken into a better world by their God, a world where there are no wars, no pain, just happiness. Religion offers something that nothing else can. A belief in a greater being. A belief in a moral guide that they can use to live their life by knowing that when their time comes their God will welcome them with open arms in the world beyond.
Although religion is analysed and questioned constantly by the scientific community, and I have to confess to believing in some of the theories put forward by our experts, I would argue that it brings us something that nothing else in this world can – comfort. I know that the idea of heaven helped me deal with the loss of my gran and I believe this is the same for many other people who have been through similar situations. Religion, I feel, gives you a reason to try and live a good life in the belief that you will go to the better place after death as a result.
The thought of there being such a place makes the thought of death not so frightening. I know
that religion itself will not bring my gran back but it gives me comfort to believe that she is in a better place reunited with her loved ones and is there waiting for me when my time comes.