Biblical euphemisms for death

7 This is the length of Abraham’s life: 175 years. 8 He took his last breath and died at a ripe old age, old and full of days] and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:7-8)

17 This is the length[e] of Ishmael’s life: 137 years. He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:17)

33 When Jacob had finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and died. He was gathered to his people. (Genesis 49:33)

14 “I am now going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the LORD your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. (Joshua 23:14)

(All verses are HCSB)

After the resurrection – message

I was wondering about how we will share the earth with all the dead after the resurrection. I can’t even imagine how many people that would be – millions and millions. There will be no room for everyone – the planet is overpopulated with the living as is. We can barely support ourselves.

The answer came that we will all be in a new phase reality. There will be many translucent layers of existence, rather than one. This already currently exists, but isn’t visible or manifest to anyone except prophets and seers. But after the resurrection, we will all see like this.

This will not be overwhelming. We will all have new eyes. We will all be able to shift our perception and see more, as we choose. We will not feel like our lives are crowded with people. They will be like the host of angels – ever present, but not always manifest.

Is burial best?

Something disturbs me about burial.  It isn’t the idea that my body will be in a coffin and then under several feet of dirt (six isn’t the norm, by the way).  I won’t need it anymore.

Why bury?  So someone can visit me? I’m not there – not the part that matters anyway.  What if they don’t, however?  There is something so sad about abandoned graveyards.


In theory, when you buy a grave site, some of the money is put into a trust for the perpetual upkeep of the grounds.  But who oversees that?  What happens if it doesn’t happen?  Who notices?

And then there is the idea of flooding.  Sometimes this happens.


This was in 1994 in Georgia.  Officials had a bear of a time figuring out who was who to rebury them correctly.

And then there is archaeology.  They call it science when they dig up somebody and show him or her off in the name of education. This is Genghis Khan’s grave.


So how is this not desecration?  How is this not violation?  So much for “rest in peace”.  This wasn’t the intent when he was buried – to be dug up and shown off.  This is rude.

And then there is what the Catholic church does to saints.  A “first degree relic” is the entire body – or a piece – of a holy person.  Rather than hoard up all that saintly goodness in one place, it is common to divvy them up.  A finger here, a toe there, a head there… This is in complete violation of their policy that members cannot scatter the ashes of their loved ones.

Graves aren’t permanent.  Bodies can be dug up, and have been.  One reason for the modern “grave liner” or “vault” is that it deters people from digging up a body.  Why would they?  One never knows the reasons for the strange things people do – but it has happened enough that there is a need to protect against it.  Sure, my body isn’t being used by me anymore, but I’d hate to think of someone doing something perverse with it after I’ve vacated it.

Then there is veneration.  This is Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris.


This does not seem respectful.  Look at all the graffiti on all the nearby graves.

The Tibetans practice “air burial”.  A person cuts up the body to make it easier for the animals to eat it. The dead body feeds living beings.  Every part of the body is useful and benefits others.  While to Western sensibilities this seems disrespectful, it is far more generous and giving than putting the body in the ground to rot.  No coffin is used, no grave is dug.  It is much less expensive on the family.  Also, there is no chance that someone will idolize the dead body by returning to the grave.  The person isn’t there anymore.



An order of readings for a funeral service

Psalm 130

Wisdom 1:12-15

Wisdom 3:1-9

Psalm 23

Romans 5:5-11 (or Romans 6:3-9)

Psalm 121

John 6:37-40

1 Corinthians 15:5-55

Notes – BibleGateway is an excellent website for copying Bible verses. They have many translations, including the “New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition” which will have the readings from Wisdom, a book from the Apocrypha and thus not in a Protestant Bible. All of these readings (except for Psalm 121) come from the Catholic daily readings appointed for All Soul’s Day.

Note that I don’t say “Celebration of Life” as some people will. While it is important to be positive and celebrate the person who we were fortunate enough to know, it is also important to acknowledge that they have died. There is too much white-washing of death going on these days. “Cemeteries” are now called “memorial parks”. Prominent and visible headstones are now out of favor for discrete in-set bronze plaques. Even coffins which have the shape of a person have now been transformed into caskets, which are simple rectangular boxes to intentionally obscure the fact of the contents. Funeral directors are no longer called morticians or undertakers. Embalmers are “derma surgeons”. The more we cover over the reality of death, the harder it will be for us to accept its inevitability. Death comes to us all. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can go on with living our lives mindfully, knowing that they are finite.


I’m always surprised by fireflies. Every year, they appear slowly, quietly. I think there is a glint of light on my windscreen, or I see a flash of light out of the corner of my eye when I get out of my car in the evening. It takes me about a week to realize that it is time, that the fireflies are here.
A month, and then another go by. They keep appearing. They keep lighting up the dusk sky with their lazy mating dance.
And then they aren’t there. One day finally comes when I realize that I’ve not seen a firefly in weeks. I’d not noticed them leave. Just as quietly as they came, they are gone.
Sometimes people are like fireflies. They are there, and then suddenly they aren’t. Their light illuminates my life for a brief time. I think they’ll always be around. And then they aren’t.

Steve Heydel, who I knew as Edmund Cavendish, is one such person.

This isn’t a close friend, one I’ve known well. I didn’t even know he was sick. He was in my medieval reenactment household. We camped together. We spent weekends in the woods, wearing medieval clothing. His always looked better than mine because he bought it.
He was a realtor, and sold me my house. More than most realtors, he helped me move by lending the use of his trailer that he used for events.  He was also an actor.  Later in life he started working for Rodale, a skin cream company.
He died October 18th, at 67, and it is hard to believe.

From IMDB – Steve Heydel is an actor, known for Ashes 2 Ashes (2014), Left Behind or Led Astray?: Examining the Origins of the Secret Pre-Tribulation Rapture (2015) and Held Up at Work(2011). He has been married to Vikki King since April 28, 1995. Height, 5’11”.

The funeral was at 10 a.m. on Thurs Oct 20,2016  at the First United Methodist, Lebanon TN, at at 415 W. Main St. in Lebanon.

From his obituary  –

Mr. Heydel passed away peacefully Oct. 18, 2016 at the age of 67, surrounded by loved ones in Nashville. Steve is survived by his loving wife of 21 years, Vikki King-Heydel, of Lebanon.

He is preceded in death by his mother, June Love Heydel, of Lebanon.

Steve is also lovingly remembered by his father, William David Heydel; brother, Richard David (Sally) Heydel; daughters, Wendy Heydel (Shane) Lynn, Chrissa Heydel (Jim) Gatton; stepson, Aaron Hester; grandsons, Mason Lynn, Connor Lynn, Ethan Lynn, Jacob Gatton, Caleb Gatton; and granddaughters, Bailey Hester, Shyann Hester; and numerous loved ones and dear friends.

Steve was born Nov. 26, 1948 in Rockwood. He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1966 and went on to earn a bachelor of arts in economics from Cumberland University and the University of Tennessee in 1970. He also attended the University of Tennessee Law School in 1971.

Steve’s passion was acting in local Lebanon community theaters and did several commercial and short film acting roles in the Middle Tennessee area. He also had an avid interest in British and European history, and was a member of the Society of Creative Anacronisms, affectionately known amongst his SCA friends as Edmund Cavendish.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Here are other pictures of him.

…and more recent ones, showing his illness.  He’d had a bone marrow transplant in May, and it had started to fail in October.


According to his Facebook page, he liked to read John Sanford and listen to Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, the Kingston Trio, Connie Laine, Tick Bryan.  For films, Hav Faith, Star Wars, Anne of the Thousand Days, Arn, Wyatt Earp, Ashes to Ashes, the Terminator, Indiana Jones.

I didn’t know know all this about him.   I suspect there is a lot that I’ll never know. I know that he loved to watch local football, and had a room in his house that was perfect for it.  His home was unique – there was a great hall that looked like a hall in a medieval castle.  He had a booth in his kitchen so he and his wife could sit as if they were eating out.



Poem – Lost mothers, daughters


We all

are daughters

searching for our mothers.

We all

are mothers

searching for our daughters.

We all

are lost,

and have lost.


Sometimes our arms

have to wrap around the shoulders

of someone else, someone

we are not related to

to comfort ourselves

and to comfort them.


Sometimes we have to be

for each other

what we don’t have

for ourselves.