Written By Yeo Jia En, Singapore
“I cried a lot today,” my mother said, sniffling. “He did so much for Singapore, it’s so sad.”
I opened my mouth to say something comforting, but no words came forth. I tried again. “It was probably better for him to go peacefully rather than suffer more, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” my mother replied, but she sounded unconvinced. My words rang hollow even to me. I shook my head, trying to figure out what else to say to comfort her.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, had just passed away. He had been critically ill for weeks, and news of his passing came as a blow to many. While there were many conflicting views about what he did for Singapore, one thing was certain—his leadership has had a huge impact on the Singapore we know today.
Although I was not born in Singapore’s early years, I had heard many stories of Mr Lee’s contributions and was very thankful for his dedication to Singapore. Many among the older generation—my parents included—respected and admired him. My mother was devastated by his death, and I could see how deeply it was affecting her. But I struggled to find the words to reassure her.
I also realized that as Mr Lee had never publicly declared whether he believed in God, I couldn’t tell my mother with full certainty that he was now in a better place than this fallen world. I could only say that he would live on in our hearts. Such an uncertainty must surely be part of the pain and sorrow that comes with the death of a loved one. I couldn’t imagine what Mr Lee’s family were feeling during this period. We could only pray that they would be comforted, and express our condolences over the course of the week of national mourning.
What about our loved ones who have a relationship with God? What should we feel when they pass on? The Bible tells us that Jesus died and rose again, and God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. While we grieve over the loss of loved ones, we can be assured that they have only fallen asleep, and that one day, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. On that day, the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:14–16). We know the fate of our loved ones because we believe in the resurrection; we have hope that there is life after death.
As we pray for comfort for the bereaved, let us cling to the hope that there is life after death, knowing that it is the gospel that allows us to boldly claim that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).