Today we are saying goodbye to a very special person, Rob Haley.
Rob was born on a cold, foggy evening on the 19th of July 1924, in Bunyip, a small town in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia: the first child to Alf and Florence Haley. Last week - on 13th May 2014 - he passed away peacefully with his children at his bedside.
If you've done your maths, Rob would have been 90 this coming July.
We come today with mixed emotions. In death - our own or others' - we collide with reality. There is shock, maybe sadness. There is fear and perhaps helplessness. Perhaps deep appreciation, and gratefulness. Each is OK: it's who you are. In terms of emotional experience there's no 'one size fits all'... But we're in the realm of mystery today. When death comes close, as it has in the loss of our dear friend/husband/dad /granddad, we are left struggling to find feelings that fit and thoughts that make sense...
I've been privileged to know Rob on and off for 41 years. My memories of conversations with him are varied, but my dominant feeling is surprise and appreciation at Rob's courage - with his voice. When Rob was six he had whooping cough which caused papilloma to form on his vocal cords. For the rest of his life he couldn’t speak above a whisper. At Blackburn Baptist Church in the 1970s in large meetings, sometimes without a microphone, Rob spoke from his seat and many couldn't follow what he was saying. But he didn't give up. He had some wisdom to share and - even in his classic whisper - he was going to share it! And - wait for it - Rob was a teacher for most of his working life - speaking in a whisper! I've been a teacher, and I can vouch for the fact that teaching - in my career they were adolescents - without a voice, is not easy...
You each will have your memories, and chuckles... For example Rob had nick- names for the children,. The boys were Bill and Charlie, which were used indiscriminately, depending on whoever was there at the time - and Lyndas was ‘Topsy’. These names were affectionately used until the children were in their twenties!
Lyndas: 'Dad did not have a practical bone in his body . I can remember my dad and his father working on some building project at our holiday house at Phillip Island. My Grandfather turned to my mum and said," I've had him for 25 years, you've had him for 25 years... where did we go wrong??"' Dad had an eclectic range of interests. nature, photography, Christianity, Classical music, and he even tried to teach himself Hebrew to broaden his understanding of the Bible.' 'Mum and dad had a good marriage and as children we never heard a cross word between them. Any problems were discussed privately. Dad was a deep thinker but also had a cheeky sense of humor.' So as we commit Rob to the mercy of God today... Let us be grateful that our lives have been enriched by his life... Rob was a Christian, but not narrow-minded. For him death was not the last word; life is. Death is not the end of the human story; it’s actually closer to the beginning. This for all of us is a temporary farewell.
So back to our reactions today: God shares in our suffering and grief. The Lord knows the loss that we feel. Jesus himself cried with Mary and Martha when his friend and their brother Lazarus died. At the same time God gives a special hope in moments like these for "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble". Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, for you believe in God, then believe also in me.”
The Christian faith tells us that despite death life is not absurd and meaningless. In death, we are changed but life hasn't ended. In fact God has prepared a place for us that is infinitely better than where we now are.
CSLewis said it well: 'I have never met a mere mortal'...
So our grief is not in vain; death does not have the last word; we are loved by a gracious God who never will abandon us.
Why is parting so painful? Because it is only when we have to part with people
that we realise how much we love them. ‘Love knows not its own depth until the
hour of separation’ (Kahlil Gibran).
I wrote a book of meditations about 20 years ago called Sunrise Sunset... Just as sunrise and
sunset are very special moments in the day, so birth and death are very special
moments in the life of a human being. At these moments we realise that each
person is absolutely unique. At birth something comes into being that never was
before. At death something passes away that will never be (on earth) again.
The sun has gone down for the last time on the life of Rob
A Facebook friend composed a poem about death:
when it comes, will be such sweet release;
To loose the grasp, let life slide idly by
Into the depths of waters yet unplumbed
And from all earthly pain and pleasure fly.
Although for some, mere thought of their demise
Fills them with dread in the encircling gloom,
But no, not I! I'll gladly wrap the Reaper in his grim embrace;
For me no fear of grave or worm or tomb.
You see, my life is hid within the One
Who conquered death, broke mortal bonds of sin.
Because He lives, my future is secured.
Thanks be to God - I also live - in Him!
Rob will be missed. Let me send you forth with the old Irish blessing: May
the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm on your face.
we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. Amen.
Life is a mystery, not to be solved but to be lived. We grieve against the backdrop of hope. Which is why despair is not part of all this for someone who follows Jesus the Christ. ~~ The
100 top things you honestly don't need to do before you die...
watching Breaking Bad to climbing Machu Picchu to reading Great Expectations,
the 'must do before you die' list is getting too long.
average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for
233,600 of those hours (more if you're a cricket fan). You will be working
for 74,060 hours (fewer if you're Usain Bolt) and you'll be waiting for
your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850. Take
off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold
for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures
of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Facebook...
end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad
(I've heard it's good – have you heard it's good?),
must never swim with dolphins. If they ever want to swim with you, I'm sure they'll
let you know. Forget Machu Picchu; the sunset on the west coast
of Scotland is as beautiful as any you'll see in the world, and it's
really nearby. And by all means go kiteboarding above the Andes, but that might
be the thing you do literally just before you die.
before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.
- gun in his mouth ans sprayed the ceiling with his brains... and I had to make
sense of all that, conducting his funeral. Drunken violence: swung their mother
by the hair around the room...
a funeral, the organist played a beautiful rendition of Bach's "Sheep May
Safely Graze" as the coffin was carried out of the church. After the
service, the pastor complimented him on his performance. "Oh, by the
way," the minister asked, "do you know what the deceased did for a
idea," said the organist as he began packing up.
minister smiled. "He was a butcher."
Dr Philip Nitzchke, Australia's noisiest euthanasia advocate, says hanging is
the #1 method of suicide by old people. Nembutal is the poison of choice for
those who want to euthanase themselves. More suicides than we might imagine
involve head-on car crashes. Main complaint old people? They're 'tired of life'.
1963 was a year (in Australia) with a suicide rate of 17.5 deaths for every 100,000 people, a
level not reached since then.
this is an important, little-discussed fact: suicide rates have been dropping
in this country ever since. The numbers declined before peaking again in 1997
(14.6 per 100,000) - then continuing to fall. The rate is now 10 per 100,000.
In the US the number of people taking their lives has increased every year
since 1999; a Newsweek cover story called it an epidemic. A study from West
Virginia University found suicide had become the leading cause of "injury
death" in the US.
a time defined by ever more social progress and astounding innovation,"
wrote reporter Tony Dokoupil, "we have never been more burdened by sadness
or more consumed by self-harm."
not just America; across the developed world, Dokoupil wrote, the leading cause
of death for 15- to 49-year-olds was suicide - more than cancer, and more than
heart disease: "Around the world, in 2010, self-harm took more lives than
war, murder and natural disasters combined, stealing more than 36 million years
of healthy life across all ages."
are frightening statistics. And Australia is hardly immune.
week, 33 men and 11 women will kill themselves in Australia. We will not hear
their names, the wails of their families, the guilt and sadness of those who
would have stopped them if they could. Most will fall silently and not be
endlessly dissected like the high-profile and prominent, the publicly adored.
at greatest risk are the young and the old, those in rural areas, those who
have attempted it before, who have mental illnesses, drug or alcohol problems -
or are male. In 2011, three-quarters of deaths from suicide were men. Young
Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander men are 4.4 times more likely to suicide than
other men of their age. Young Aboriginal women are 5.9 times more likely to
self-harm than non-indigenous peers.
is it possible to say why suicide rates have been falling for decades?
2002 and 2011 there was a huge drop of 58 per cent in men aged 25 to 29 killing
themselves. In the same period, the number of suicides of elderly
women, aged 80 to 84, also fell by 55 per cent.
suicides are never reported, many are hidden, and coronial reports can stay
open for years. But if we are going to talk about the ongoing plague of
suicide, we need to discuss what the research tells us actually works.
is what we know:
economy. High unemployment is a big risk factor, especially for young men. The
suicide rate rocketed during the Great Depression and increased in the three
months before, and six months after the 1987 market crash, by about 15 per
cent. Other research, cited by Newsweek, from Krysia Mossakowski, a sociologist
at the University of Hawaii, found stretches of unemployment could permanently
damage mental health: those who did not have jobs for long periods when young
to be alcoholics, and depressed, when older.
and status. People with secure, high-paying jobs are less likely to self-harm.
A study by Mary Daly, a researcher with the Federal Reserve Bank in San
Francisco, found people who earned 10 per cent less than their neighbour were
4.5 per cent more likely to take their own lives. Which is sobering.
of guns. In the US, half of all suicides involve guns. In 2010, the majority of
gun deaths were people killing themselves, according to Pew Research. Federal
Labor MP Andrew Leigh, when a professor of economics at ANU, conducted a study
that found firearm homicide and suicide rates halved in Australia after the
1996 buyback of guns following the Port Arthur Massacre.
reports. An Australian Institute of Criminology report found: "The average
daily rate of suicide in Australia increases significantly after the
publication of suicide stories in the media." This is the contagion
effect, which places the onus on journalists not to glamourise self-harm, or
publicise details of the mechanics or specifics of suicide for fear of copycat
effects. In an era of a flattened, web-driven journalism, this is,
unfortunately, unlikely to continue to be broadly honoured. We need to be
careful. But it does not mean we should not discuss or peel back the stigma of
social safety net. The criminology institute concluded we have fared better
than some European countries and Japan when it comes to self-harm,
"largely due to the provision of a comprehensive social welfare system
which has countered the vulnerability of high-risk groups to suicide".
have not been able to establish if use of antidepressants will curb self-harm;
it is now recommended that psychosocial interventions be used as well.
has been difficult to document the direct impact of national suicide
prevention, mental health plans or substance abuse policies.
Kate Carnell, chief executive of Beyond Blue, thinks they are crucial. She
attributes the decline in suicides in Australia to public dialogue around
depression, mental health and suicide prevention that has reduced stigma and
prompted more people to seek help. This has included more primary healthcare
usage, more talking therapy, early intervention programs, and greater research.
is not glamorous; it is ugly and painful and final and sad. If we are serious
about tackling it, we don't need plaques, we need jobs, equality of
opportunity, careful reporting and continual, thoughtful care for the most
vulnerable and ignored in our society.
of us live lives of quiet desperation (as Thoreau suggested),,,
Rohr: "The people who know God well—the mystics, the hermits, the
prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover,
not a dictator. God is never found to be an abusive father or a manipulative
mother, but a lover who is more than we dared hope for."
LIFE AND DEATH 251113
Time, November 25, 2013:
rates have been climbing in the U.S. since 2005. In 2009 the number of suicides
surpassed deaths from motor vehicle accidents for the first time. In 2010, the
most recent year for which statistics are available, 38,364 Americans killed
themselves... From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate for Americans ages 35 to 64
rose 28.4%. For men in their 50s, the rate rose nearly 50% during that time...
8million adults in the U.S. are thinking seriously about suicide, but only
1.1million actually attempt it...
areas have historically had higher suicide rates than urban areas, and most
experts believe it's a combination of more gun ownership per capita, isolation,
and a culture that discourages seeking help...
counsellor]: 'We say, "Tell us your story, and go way back... We
discovered that if you're going to effectively get to them, you need to go
upstream in their life, at a point where things are going wrong but they're not
yet thinking about suicide".'
acting teacher and director of the Actors Studio Lee Strasberg gave screen icon
Marilyn Monroe’s eulogy in 1962. Strasberg helped train the legendary star and
noted, “The dream of her talent, which she had nurtured as a child, was not a
mirage.” Norma Jean had a troubled childhood—spending most of it in foster
homes—but her young modeling career eventually led to screen stardom, which was
sadly cut short after her suicide. As Strasberg points out, “In her own
lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background
1979, writer Norman Mailer composed his own obituary/eulogy, which was
published inBoston magazine. It’s a witty and poignant piece of
writing that finds The Naked and the Deadauthor — who passed away
in 2007 — poking fun at himself for his many marriages amongst other things.
Mailer passed away yesterday after celebrating his fifteenth divorce and
sixteenth wedding. “I just don’t feel the old vim,” complained the writer
recently. He was renowned in publishing circles for his blend of fictional
journalism and factual fiction, termed by literary critic William Buckley:
Contemporaneous Ratiocinative Aesthetical Prolegomena. Buckley was
consequentially sued by Mailer for malicious construction of invidious
acronyms. “Norman does take himself seriously,” was Mr. Buckley’s reply. “Of
course he is the last of those who do.”
the author’s bedside were eleven of his fifteen ex-wives, twenty-two of his
twenty-four children, and five of his seven grandchildren, of whom four are
older than six of their uncles and aunts.
Charles Spencer’s eulogy to Diana Spencer, Princess of
Steve Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, had to
deliver his sister’s eulogy in 1997 after Princess Diana was fatally injured in
a car crash. Her death devastated the nation — even though many never stepped
foot near the Princess — but Spencer’s eulogy reminded the world why friends,
family, and strangers alike were always honored by her presence:
was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the
world she was a symbol of selfless humanity, a standard-bearer for the rights
of the truly downtrodden, a truly British girl who transcended nationality,
someone with a natural nobility who was classless, who proved in the last year
that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of
Oprah Winfrey’s eulogy to Rosa Parks
native and African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to give up
her seat to a white person in 1955. She was arrested for her brave
disobedience, but her actions prompted the Montgomery Bus Boycott—led by a
young Martin Luther King Jr. Parks was a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement,
and after her death she was honored for her courage and humility. Oprah Winfrey
spoke about these traits in her eulogy to Parks in October, 2005: “I would not
be standing here today nor standing where I stand every day had she not chosen
to sit down,” Winfrey said. “I know that. I know that. I know that. I know
that, and I honor that. Had she not chosen to say we shall not—we shall not be
President Reagan’s national eulogy to the Space
Shuttle Challenger crew
the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart and exploded during its mission in
1986, its seven-person crew didn’t survive the accident — including
schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first teacher in
space. Because of this, there were many young students across the nation
watching the launch on television who witnessed the disaster. President Reagan
was due to give his State of the Union address that day, but instead gave a
national eulogy in honor of the Challenger crew. He directly addressed
schoolchildren everywhere, saying:
know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen.
It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of
taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the
fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into
the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.”
Death - the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening. ~ Walter Scott
The song is ended, but the melody lingers on...
~ Irving Berlin
Perhaps they are not stars but rather
openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are happy
well spent day brings happy sleep,
so life well used brings happy death.
Say not in grief he is no more - but live in thankfulness that he was
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the
sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only
if there light is from within.
~Elizabeth Kubler Ross
We make a living by what we get;
we make a life by what we give
"I can't think of a more wonderful thanksgiving
for the life I have had than that everyone
should be jolly at my funeral"
Admiral Lord Mountbatten
Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is
a mystery and today is a gift,
which is why it is called the present.
What the caterpillar perceives is the end;
to the butterfly is just the beginning.
Everything that has a beginning has an ending.
Make your peace with that and all will be well
[Here put St Paul]
a coincidence today. On this day three hundred and ninety years ago, the great
explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his
lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said,
"He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today,
we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's,
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they
lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them,
this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and
"slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of
10 Deathbed Regrets:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life other
people expected of me.
2. I wish I took time to be with my children more when they were growing up.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings, without the fear of being
rejected or unpopular.
4. I wish I would have stayed in touch with friends and family.
5. I wish I would have forgiven someone when I had the chance.
6. I wish I would have told the people I loved the most how important they are
7. I wish I would have had more confidence and tried more things, instead of
being afraid of looking like a fool.
8. I wish I would have done more to make an impact in this world.
9. I wish I would have experienced more, instead of settling for a boring life
filled with routine, mediocrity and apathy.
10. I wish I would have pursued my talents and gifts.
(contributed by Shannon L. Alder, author and therapist that has 17 years of
experience working with hospice patients)”
come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones”
life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a
life spent doing nothing."
-George Bernard Shaw
you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.
didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."
- Vince Lombardi
they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you
- Mahatma Gandhi
true that we only live here once, but if we do it right, once is enough
- Paul C. Brownlow
Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us,
hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for
them is never wasted.
- Garrison Keillor
live in hearts we leave behind Is not to die.”
will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling
that you cherished them."
to learn something about everything and everything about something."
- Thomas Henry Huxley
I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor
any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside
Isla Paschal Richardson
is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is
nothing save the limit of our sight.
Rossiter W. Raymond
John 14:1-4“Let not your hearts be
troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many
rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place
for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will
take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to
where I am going.”
this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are
better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~