This is a very personal blog post based on my faith. Though I am very blessed to serve people from every religion or no religion, this is my personal view and how I am able to accept and perform my duty.
It was a typical evening around my home about 7:00 pm on a Sunday. We were in my front yard, my parents, wife and my children, kicking the soccer ball back and forth and enjoying the last few evenings of summer. Just as we were about to go in to take the girls up for their bath time my cell phone rang, there was a lady on the other end who exclaimed “My mother in law has just died at her residence and the police are here and said to call the funeral home.” This is unfortunately a typical evening phone call in my family.
I first offer my condolences and tried to get a handle on the situation so I could understand how to help her, my first question was “Is your husband, the son, there at the home now?” The reason for this question is to establish the legal next of kin so I know how to approach the home and her response was “Yes, but he is upstairs sobbing over his mothers body and he cannot come to the phone right now!” She seemed to be filled with a lot of emotions, which is a very normal response, so I told her I was on the way and would be there very shortly. I rush my children inside my house and help get my wife started on the “evening routine” and I run into my closet and like superman come back down the stairs in under a minute changed from my shorts into a black suit and tie, my “superman costume”. I rush to Marietta to get the hearse and drive straight to the residence meeting a colleague of mine and we met the daughter in law at the door. She told me how glad she was that we made it there so fast because of how hard her husband is taking the death of his mother. She told me that he was the only son and he adored his mother, she also told me he was a marine and all of their children are lawyers. I looked at my preacher colleague and said a silent prayer asking for God to use me to help bring comfort to this family… and not wind up in a lawsuit! We walk into a lot of different situations and until we can come face to face with the all the family its hard to know exactly how to approach someone.
Once inside the residence I met the son who is still grieving and I offer to him my deepest condolences. I told him that I am there to help and answer any questions that he might have. He asked me to have a seat and then he sat right in front of me with his family by his side. He had a series of questions in regards to the next steps, what he should be doing now and where do we go from here. I answered all of his questions and during our conversation he held up his hand and he looked at me and asked if he could stop for a moment and pray, of course I agreed and together the family entered into a prayer asking for guidance in comfort. After the prayer he raised his head and the look of grief on his face has turned into a look of acceptance, a look that I try to see in every families face and I knew exactly what was going to happen from that point on.
I spent the next few days with the family planning the funeral, visitations, receptions, coordinating cemeteries as well as ministers and musicians, etc… So many details to cover and so much work to be done. The final part of the ceremony concluded at the cemetery. The son and family, though still grieving, were smiling and laughing and sharing memories of his mother and their grandmother. He spoke during the graveside ceremony thanking God for his Grace and his comfort.
This is something that I personally witness on a daily basis. How can a person who is so grief stricken where they can’t hardly piece together a full thought go to laughing and giving thanks to God within just a couple of days? God’s Grace! When he raised his head from that prayer at the residence I could see the blanket of Grace that just came over him. This is when I knew that everything will be fine.
The bible, Apostle Paul, speaks of death as a mystery and how true that is. Death is something that we all face but we just can’t comprehend or understand fully. We can’t understand the timing of a death, the manner of a death or even the place of a death. It’s easy for us to take the death of a loved one very personal, what I mean by that is that we will say to God “Whey would you take them from me? What have I done!?” We have to remind ourselves that our loved ones had their own personal relationship with God and that before they became ours on earth, they were His. As people we take possession over things and even people in our lives, this is the hardest part of accepting a death that many will face. God understands these emotions of death and He will use death to put in us an understanding and comfort that we may only obtain through the death of a loved one. The bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting…” Why is it better to be sad and mourning instead of happy and rejoicing? It’s hard to understand but if allowed, death will bring you closer to Him. Some times when we are at the very bottom all we can do is look up. The greatest gift and the best assurance that God gives us is His Grace. The bible is very clear that He will be with us during these times, all we have to do is accept His Grace to cover us during these times of grief.
Seeing this first hand over and over is what keeps me able to perform my duties as a funeral director and putting those in the path of God’s Grace is a ministry that I am proud to serve in. I don’t understand all the why’s and how’s of death, but I am seeing glimpses of God’s Grace in every family that I serve.