Moving on in spite of . . .

coffee11.jpgI 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? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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13 thoughts on “Moving on in spite of . . .

  1. I have found that, for me,  any loss seems to trigger grief over all my past losses.  For example, after my husband Jim died, I got a little dog.  When she was killed a couple of years later, I was just wracked with grief – would get up every morning crying, pull myself together and go to work, then start crying again each night.  This went on for an extended length of time.  I realized that it wasn’t just the loss of my dog Tootsie that was causing this, it was all the major and minor losses I had experienced up to that time. 
    I have also found that, as I’ve aged and experienced more losses (as we all do), I do feel more keenly with others who have loss in their lives.  I particularly relate to those who have lost someone through death or divorce, as I’ve had those things in my life. 

  2. I’ve heard it said that every transition in our lives is a form of loss. Moving, changing jobs, switching churches. Even the happy transitions (marriage, childbirth) have seeds of loss embedded in them.
    When my mom died last fall, the grief (which is still in a pretty active state) seemed to emcompass and reactivate some of the other lesser losses I’ve experienced in my life. 

  3. Besides the ones you mentioned, the chronic pain some people have almost every day can cause grief.  It’s the loss of mobility or energy and the fear of how they’ll take care of themselves or others.My wife suffers from a joint disease and sometimes she is almost in tears from the pain and that can be a source of grief.  On the bright side, she is learning to find Christ’s supply in this chronic pain and continues to give hope and comfort to me and so many others even when she feels terrible.  I am humbled by her faith and self-giving love.

  4. Jim,
    I think that funerals make us look at our lives in a way that we can avoid doing most of the rest of our lives.  The death of some one close pierces the armor that we use to hide the things we don’t want to face about our lives. Whether it’s our mortality, our shortcomings, or some deep unhealed emotional wound it can all be pulled to the surface.  I think that this is one reason we don’t like to go to funerals because they are huge mirrors for our own lives.    

  5. The loss of a child has been one of the hardest losses for me.  I think that for me it has been the wondering of how Chad would be now and the interaction that he and Erica could have had over the years.  At this time, I find myself grieving again because I know the hurt that our friends from church are going through at this time.

  6. Connie– Thanks very much for these examples.  I suspect that many people will connect your example of your dog dying and that triggering your earlier grief.  Thank you for such a good and personal example.(I also like what you said about getting older and being around more people who are experiencing loss.  That is so true.) 

  7. Michelle,I have never given thought to what said regarding a major loss (like a family death) triggering some of the lesser losses.  That does make sense, however. 

  8. Adam,You know I can’t say that I have ever associated chronic pain with the word "loss" but of course that makes sense.  After all, the loss is very real on a number of fronts.Thanks, 

  9. Jim,What a great comment.  What you are saying is so true!  The death of one close to us does "pierce the armor" and also creates a mirror for us to look at our own lives.  This is very good, Jim.  I like the way you express this.  

  10. It seems to me
    that grief, like at a funeral, is our connection with our deeper selves. I have
    found that in today’s world we have a strong desire to disconnect from any
    emotion.  We want to get funerals over with as soon as possible.  We
    don’t like to face any unpleasantness in our life.  We need to
    reconsider Solomon’s words in Ecc. 7, It is better to go to a house of
    mourning than to go to a house of feasting,for death is the destiny of
    every man; the living should take this to heart. 

    Sorrow is
    better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.  

    The heart of the
    wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house
    of pleasure.Peace. 

  11. Having just experienced the loss of my father in January, I would add that perhaps greater than the physical loss of my Dad was the grief for the loss of a relationship hoped for, but never quite reached (and the knowledge that he would never really know me and my heart issues now that he is gone). Also, by the time the memorial service came, we (my mom and "us four kids" and our families) had moved through a lot of the immediate grief, plus we had been with Dad those last 2-3 weeks and seen him – the Dad we knew – disappear before our eyes to become someone else, someone less than our  Dad. It made it a bit "easier" (relative term, I now) to accept his passing. However, many of those at the memorial service were grieving for the man of strength they had always known. In many ways, we ended up consoling them more than they consoled us. 

  12. Steve,Good point.  I think you are right.  There are some emotions that we (many of us at least) want to avoid at all costs.  To avoid facing this or refusing to deal with this is ultimately our loss. 

  13. Karen,I am so sorry about the death of your dad.  I was particularly struck by this line:… I would add that perhaps greater than the physical loss of my Dad was
    the grief for the loss of a relationship hoped for, but never quite
    I don’t think I have ever heard this expressed so clearly.  I think that many, many people can resonate with these words.