Sunday, May 11, 2014



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.' 
um 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: 

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.
Until 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...
From watching Breaking Bad to climbing Machu Picchu to reading Great Expectations, the 'must do before you die' list is getting too long. 

The 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... 

Let's end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad (I've heard it's good – have you heard it's good?), 
You 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. 

But before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.


Graham - 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...


During 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 living?"

"No idea," said the organist as he began packing up.

The 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'.  Kevorkian.


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.
And 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.
"In 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."

It's 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."

These are frightening statistics. And Australia is hardly immune.

In a 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.

Those 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.

So is it possible to say why suicide rates have been falling for decades?
Between 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.

Some 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.

This is what we know:

The 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 were more
likely to be alcoholics, and depressed, when older.

Wealth 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.

Availability 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.

Media 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 suicide.

A 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".

Researchers 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.
It has been difficult to document the direct impact of national suicide prevention, mental health plans or substance abuse policies.

But 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.

Suicide 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.


I intend to live forever; so far, so good


Many of us live lives of quiet desperation (as Thoreau suggested),,,


Richard 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."



From Time, November 25, 2013:

'Suicide 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...
'About 8million adults in the U.S. are thinking seriously about suicide, but only 1.1million actually attempt it...
'Rural 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...
[Suicide 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".'

(Pp. 48, 50, 51)


Lee Strasberg’s eulogy to Marilyn Monroe
Prestigious 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 could attain.”


In 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.

Novelist Shelved 
By Norman Mailer
Norman 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.”
At 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 Wales
Like 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:
“Diana 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 magic.”


Oprah Winfrey’s eulogy to Rosa Parks
Alabama 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 moved.”


President Reagan’s national eulogy to the Space Shuttle Challenger crew
When 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:
“I 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

~Eskimo Legend

As a well spent day brings happy sleep,
so life well used brings happy death.

~Leonardo DaVinci

Say not in grief he is no more - but live in thankfulness that he was

~Hebrew Proverb

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
Winston Churchill

"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
Buddhist Saying 

[Here put St Paul]

There's 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, complete.
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 God."
Thank you.”
― Ronald Reagan

“Top 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 to me.

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)”
― Shannon L. Alder


“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones”
― William ShakespeareJulius Caesar


"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
-George Bernard Shaw


If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.
-Tryon Edwards


"We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."
- Vince Lombardi


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
- Mahatma Gandhi


It's 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


“To live in hearts we leave behind Is not to die.”


"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them."
-Richard Evans


"Try to learn something about everything and everything about something."
- Thomas Henry Huxley


For 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.

Romans 8:38,39


What the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
- Anonymous


Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there.
- Isla Paschal Richardson


Life 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.”


“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

No comments:

Post a Comment