Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised to learn that when Henry Scott Holland authored this piece he was a Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and also a canon of Christ Church. He died 100 years ago last month. Today this may seem an entirely unorthodox view but in his time it reflected a knowing much more widely embraced. Death is not an end. Although I struggle with thinking it is nothing at all. There is a continuity. And communion is possible…if we are willing to find it or allow it to find us.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org