I got home yesterday evening after being away two days for a funeral.
This particular funeral was for the 37-year-old daughter of friends from our church. She lived in the Dallas area, was married and the mother of a 13-month-old boy. She had coached for many years in the Dallas area. The funeral was yesterday morning at the large Baptist church where they were members. I enjoyed being with their pastor and meeting other ministers of that church as well.
I don’t ever get used to speaking at a funeral. I don’t know how to be disengaged when I am participating in a funeral. If that were to ever happen, I would probably be very, very concerned. There is so much that rises to the surface when someone dies. I often become more aware of my own mortality and the brevity of my own life when I am doing a funeral. This doesn’t just happen at the funeral itself but when I am meeting with the family (in preparation for the funeral) as well as when I am around others who are grieving.
Being present at a funeral often brings to the surface the grief that you have regarding the death of this loved one. Yet, the grief can be even more than this. Being present at a funeral (or the visitation the night before the funeral) will often bring to the surface the grief you might have regarding other areas of life:
- Grief over the death of the family you once knew. Maybe the relationship between you and your sister or brother is strained. Perhaps you are even estranged from a member of your family. Maybe you just realize that things are not going to be the same again.
- Grief over the physical death of your own father, mother, brother, sister.
- Grief over the death of other significant relationships in your life. Longtime friendships that are broken. Bridges that have been burned with people who at one time meant so much to you.
- Grief that is with you when you must live with a sense of deep loss over anything that has been really significant to you.
Does this make any sense?
What I have just described is not only what I have witnessed during times of death. I have experienced this as well. My own grief over significant losses becomes fresh again. No, this does not happen at every funeral that I go to or that I participate in. However, this does happen very often.
The good news is that this grief is a reminder that none of us can manage life. We can’t control when and how people live or die. We can’t always do something about the losses we experience. We can’t make life work the way we believe it should or ought to work. In short, we just can’t fix life.
I have learned that grief is a stark reminder of my need for Jesus, the one who brings a life that can’t be dampened by loss or cut short by death. In short, Jesus is greater than loss or death. I have found that walking with him is the hope for experiencing real life that doesn’t end.
I’m curious. What are some of the significant losses for which people in general grieve? Is there one of these losses that you especially relate to?