Pulling Together

A bad time to die

A recent acquaintance, the Revd. John Rogan, died yesterday (15th April 2020) at the age of 92. He was elderly and frail physically, but still active mentally and making plans the last time I saw him in February.

He led a small discussion group in which I was a member and that kept him active and involved with other people, which was immensely important to him after a lifetime spent in industrial chaplaincy. He was clearly very much a people person.

I suspect over a long career, both officially working and in retirement, he touched the lives of many who will have fond memories of him. He was the sort of man who would probably merit a large memorial service in the cathedral of the diocese in which he spent the bulk of his ministry but, of course, that cannot happen at present. Instead, he will be buried or cremated with very few mourners in a brief ceremony involving only his immediate offspring if he has any, the funeral director and the presiding minister.

Being a man driven so much by working for others, I wonder what effect the lockdown had on his final months. We should have met him in March, but it was contrary to government advice because of his age and the risk to the safety of his home from an influx of people with disparate connections, so we cancelled it. This month, had he lived, it would have been illegal to meet. What did that do to a man who lived for others? How lonely and abandoned was he at the end? Could that have hastened his end? We shall never know.

For most of us, there will never be a good time to die, but now is a particularly bad time to die, alone and not able to be collectively mourned. It is a sad time for us all.

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