Yesterday, I did a funeral.
I did a funeral. That statement has meaning to anyone in ministry. It means I spoke at a funeral. Yet, it usually means so much more. It means that I was with the family. It means that I got to see a family up close during a very difficult time in their lives.
I have no idea how many funerals I have participated in. I do recall at least some of the situations:
- A 26-year-old woman who died of cancer.
- A 70-year-old man who died in a traffic accident.
- A baby, born to a quiet West Texas couple, who only lived a few days.
- A 17-year-old boy who died when he wrecked his truck one Saturday night.
- A woman in her 80s who passed away in a nursing home.
- A man in his late 40s who ended his own life.
Participating in a funeral is not something to be taken lightly. I really don’t know how to be involved in a funeral without being engaged emotionally because it is so personal for that family.
A funeral is personal because this is often a time during which a minister is allowed to peak inside that family. I generally meet with the family prior to the funeral. This time together might be long or it might be short. One thing is for sure. It is very personal. They will usually tell stories about their loved one. Funny stories. Sad stories. Tragic stories. Very often they will tell rich stories about their loved one that speak of that person’s character and values. Again, these stories are very personal. When hearing these stories, one is allowed to look at some emotional snapshots of what goes on within that family.
A funeral is very personal because it elicits in that family so many thoughts, feelings, and memories about that mother, father, son, daughter, etc. Of course there are many factors at work in all of this. What was the nature of the relationship? How close do family members feel to this person? Are their memories primarily positive or primarily negative?