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On Funerals

My family has been blessed by every comfort and prayer offered during the recent loss of my grandmother, Lois Hessler.  In time, you may get tired of hearing stories from my experiences over the last few months.  Today, I’m going to share my observations about funeral visitations.

The Monday after Easter, we welcomed people for visitation at the funeral home.  A few people were clearly at ease, because they were very close to our family.  Most people weren’t quite sure what to say.  That’s okay.

When visiting a grieving family, let me reassure you that in that moment your presence means more than your words.  The best thing you can say is, “I’m sorry.  I’m sad for your loss.”  Then, follow up with a question, “Can I help you in any way?”

In those uncomfortable moments, avoid clichés like, “We know she’s in a better place now.” After hearing that 58 times, it loses its meaning.  By all means, don’t say stupid things like, “Doesn’t she look good?”  If you are pleased with the mortician’s work, that’s fine.  Say, “Didn’t they do a good job with her?”  But, hearing 134 people say, “Doesn’t she look good,” simply increased my temptation to say, “No. She doesn’t look good. She looks dead!”   My grandmother’s life was in her eyes.  Her eyes were closed.  Her life was gone.

The highlight of visitation hours for me was talking with people who wanted to recount days gone by.  Linda & Sue Martin (yes, they have married names; but they’ll always be “the Martin girls”) grew up with us at the lake.  Together, we retold lake stories.  I brought up their dad, Bruce, who died a few years ago, and how he was always quick to laugh.  They shared of how Bruce always conducted a bed check every night, and the scream that awoke the house one night when a neighbor lady was borrowing one bed he checked.  Together, we laughed and grieved the loss of Buddo as part of a greater loss we all feel as we watch that generation pass away.

Others shared in the same way, recalling fond stories about my grandparents, and how they made a difference in their lives.

The Bible tells us to “grieve with those who grieve.”  Being uncomfortable is normal.  Be genuine.  Don’t feel the need to say something meaningful; it will usually sound trite.  Pray. Be personal. Focus on the ones grieving, not on your own discomfort.  And God will make you a blessing.

Brett Andrews, Lead Guy

3 Responses to “On Funerals”

  1. Thanks for that post and your honesty. I definately think most people just dont know what to say, so it helps to hear your words. We always enjoy when your message on Sundays involves stories about your grandparents. We pray that your family has peace.

  2. good stuff here.

  3. Aww! Thanks for the great words about the days after your Buddo’s death–including the injected humor. “No, she DOESN’T look good. She looks DEAD.” That’s what i wanted to say when my Dad died, instead settling for “Yeah–they got it pretty close. Thanks.” I was glad to have oodles of photos of him in a big poster frame right there next to him–it brought forth laughs and sighs and stories.

    Here’s to your Buddo and my dad, Sport!!!

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