6 Reasons to Be Grateful at a Funeral

I recently attended the funeral, actually, the celebration of life of a 23 year old daughter of a friend.

The uncanny timing of this particular event was not lost on me.  As I sat at this funeral, I was reminded of another that took place just one week shy of 11 years ago- in the same church- led by the same pastor.  It was a funeral I was very much a part of since the life being celebrated was my 15 year old daughter, Leisha.

I didn’t have to go to this young woman’s memorial service.  I didn’t know her, though over the years, I have often been encouraged by her family. I argued with myself I didn’t need to go because there would be so many people at this service, they wouldn’t miss me.

But I couldn’t NOT be there. Just as so many had done for us when Leisha died, every thing in me urged me to make the effort to go. Every thought I had about it said I must attend.

I sat in the middle of a row surrounded by people I have come to care about deeply. I was struck by the emotions that were welling up in me.  Not the numbing grief as I had experienced 11 years ago (though my heart does grieve for what this family has yet to experience).  No my emotion this time was gratitude.

It occurred to me that we don’t always go to a funeral because we know the deceased or even because of our relationship with those who did.  Often we find ourselves there because of other reasons.  In fact, I might argue that these are opportunities for us to be grateful!

We can be grateful …

That it isn’t us! That’s not meant to be selfish or arrogant in any way.  It’s just that we are very aware of the pain in this moment, or perhaps the fear we have to experience the depth of this kind of grief.  Losing one you love- let alone a young person…who wants that in your life.  No one!  No one prepares for that kind of loss because to even begin to imagine it is beyond us.  If we have experienced loss, we know something this family has yet to discover; just how painful it will be when the numbness wears off, how long it takes to grieve, how many waves of grief will threaten to wash them out to sea. We are grateful this time it is not us.

We can be grateful…

For the reminder that life is short because it inspires us to live life more intentionally. We still have time to do the thing that has been on our heart to do, to love on the precious family and friends in our life, to say the things that need to be said.  Do it!  Life is short!

We can be grateful…

That a moment like this serves as a prompt to think of the end of our own life.  We can ask ourselves, “What do we want to be said about us at our funerals?”  Are there changes we need to make today that will influence who comes to our funeral, whenever it may be, and what they say about us to others? Ask the questions!  Make the changes! Be who we want to be in the lives of those we love.

We can be grateful…

For the awareness that we are very much alive! We still have a purpose. We still have a chance to make the difference we were made to make.  Are we aware of the influence we are having on our world?  If we are not being intentional, we are still having an impact for good or not. We can be grateful we have this opportunity to rethink our influence.

We can be grateful…

For the beauty of the community of people that support us during times like this. Many people show up- some are the friends closest to us, but often it was a word from a complete stranger, or a card from a new acquaintance, or maybe just a smile from a woman in the fresh fruit isle. (I was crying over a package of red raspberries like the ones Leisha chose at the store the day she died.)

Grief can be a lonely journey. There are times we want to push people away because we can barely deal with our own emotions, let alone how they are dealing with theirs.  Some friends leave during that time- and that’s ok.  But others keep showing up, keep calling, keep checking, keep caring.  Those are the people who continue to make a difference in our grief.  Those are the ways we can make a difference in someone else’s grief.

We can be grateful…

That grief is different than despair. Grief can be hopeful. Despair has no hope. We may not feel it always or be able to identify what hope looks like, but underneath it all, grief has hope.  It may be tied to the relationship we had with our loved one.

But it is often connected to our view of God and our relationship with him.  Our loss, may cause us to doubt and question every thing we had ever believed about God.  We may struggle to believe the promises of God given to us in scripture.  We may feel like we have lost all confidence in him.

But even in the spiritual battle that rages in us,  we are wrestling with the ONE who also knows what it is to lose a son. We may climb up in God’s lap and beat on his chest and yell and scream till we crumble from exhaustion. Then where are we!  Right there- in his arms experiencing a kind of hope that only He can give.

That’s a hope that is born out of faith and faith is not a lonely journey.  It’s a shared journey.  We can lean in to Him, be honest with Him, and see Him bigger and different than we’ve ever known or needed Him to be.

That’s hope!

That’s THE reason to be grateful!

Why do you go to funerals?  Which of the reasons above resonated with you and your experience with loss?

Why are your grateful?

Respond to something I said, or leave a reason of your own. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “6 Reasons to Be Grateful at a Funeral”

  1. Grief is lonely. When I went thru the deaths of my parents and grandparent’s I really don’t feel I mourned. When I experienced the death of my nephew, Colin’s son Jonathan, I cried and cried and I still cry for Colin’s loss. I have experienced the final moments of several people. I felt a piece and comfort when they passed except for 1. He struggled. He fought death. I wondered if he wasn’t truly a Christian. The loss of loved ones that know Jesus is so much easier to deal with than those that don’t know Jesus as his personal savior.

    1. I agree Leah. Our grief may not reveal itself fully until later on. And then sometimes it comes when we least expect it. I think there is a differnce too when we lose someone so young like Jonathon. But to have peace spiritually- no matter how old we are is another matter all together. I love your heart for your brother and for others inn your world.
      Press on lil’sis.

    1. So agree Frank! There is hope in heart ache! And it is in those painful times that we become very intentional about seeing it- because we must.
      Thanks for the comment.

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