Talking about Dying - Study Course

  • Study Guides



This course is designed for Christian Study Groups, meeting in a trusting environment where people can talk confidentially about their hopes and fears.

Each person should have a copy of the book Talking about Dying, Wilberforce Publications 2017. It is available in print or Kindle form. Order here

It would also be good if people brought Bibles to the meetings of the group to refer to.

The Leader might like to prepare a short Bible Study to lead into prayer at the end of each session, but not so as to inhibit the time or the opportunity for people to express their own views and emotions.


Please read the chapters suggested, before coming to the meeting each week.

These studies look at the subject in a different order from the book. The book was designed to start from where the average reader was likely to start: with talking about dying with a friend or a doctor. Only later does the book open up the subjects of life after death and prayer for healing.

As Christians we should start with the question of prayer for healing and our faith in the life of the world to come. All our later discussions can then take place in the light of those.

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Session 1: Dying and Healing

Read: Foreword, Chapters 1 and 11.

Our Victorian ancestors talked a lot about dying but the subject of sex was taboo. In our generation we talk a lot about sex; the taboo is talking about death and dying.

Chapter 1: Why do we find it so difficult in our society to talk about dying?

Chapter 11: As Christians we would probably want to start our conversations with a sick person by talking about, and praying for healing.

But when do we stop praying for healing, and what do we pray for then?

A good question to ask a sick person: ‘What would you like me to pray for you?’

Pray at the end for wisdom, as you help and pray for people facing sickness and death.

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Bible Study: Psalm 23

Session 2: Life after Death

Read: chapters 9 and 10

Chapter 9: Paul writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3.13b-14)

Can we say with Paul that we are ‘straining towards’ the life of the world to come, or are we still hesitant and reluctant travellers? How eager are we to arrive at our heavenly home?

Are we all going to the same place in the end? If not, do we need to tell people the bad news as well as the good news?

Chapter 10: What fears do you have about death and dying? Share your doubts and fears, or the reasons for your hope.

What do you need to do to overcome these fears?

Someone once said to Jesus: “Lord increase my faith.” Pray for one another that the Lord will increase the faith of us all.

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Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 15.12-57

Session 3: Facing life-threatening illness

Read: Chapters 2 and 3, (4)

Chapter 2: Have you ever had to walk through this process of coping with a life-threatening illness yourself, or with someone else?

What are the reactions that you have had to deal with: anger, denial, panic?

Chapter 3: How do you feel about the medical decision to stop curative treatment and to change over to palliative care?

How would you go about discussing this decision with someone else with a life-threatening illness?

How do you think you would cope with this decision yourself? Have you thought of making an Advance Decision (Appendix 3).

Pray for any you may know who may be facing such a decision now.

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Bible Study: Philippians 1.19-26

Session 4: Hard cases

Read: Chapters 5, 6, and 7

Have you any experience of coping with any of these: unexpected or sudden death, suicide, or the death of a baby? How did you cope?

‘Coping’ means coping both with the immediate shock and emotions, and also coping with the longer-term traumas, grief, guilt, regrets.

What can we do to help other people who are suffering with deaths like these amongst our family or friends?

Pray for any known to you, including any in the group, who has suffered such experiences.

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Bible Study: 2 Samuel 12.15-23

Session 5: Talking to children

Read: Chapter 8

How should we talk to children about death and dying?

When should we talk to children about death and dying?

Should we try to protect children from the realities of death and dying?

Should children attend funerals?

Pray for wisdom for parents and friends who have to talk to children about dying.

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Bible Study: Mark 10.13-16 and Deuteronomy 33.27a

Sessions 6: Be prepared

Read: Chapters 12 and 13

What practical steps have you taken to prepare for your own incapacity and/or death? Registering a Lasting Power of Attorney, Making a Will, Registering an Advance Decision?

Have you discussed with your nearest relatives, and written down, your own wishes with regard to your funeral?

From your own experience, how can we best help people who are going through the process of dying, and how can we best help those in their families who are going through it with them? How can we initiate conversations with them such as we have had these past few weeks?

Pray for the faith and courage to live the rest of our lives, be they long or short, to the glory God and to bless those around us.

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Bible Study: John 14.1-6