One of the things that I find most difficult during these times of restriction is the way we are not permitted to attend funerals and visitations. Not that I have a particular fondness for those types of events. For the loved ones of someone who pass away, it can be such a very difficult time and who am I to intrude on their loss? But it feels like the right thing to do – to be there and shake a hand or give a hug or relay a memory. Some funeral homes have adapted with the co-vid situation by providing online streaming services and that is helpful but it is simply not the same. Interment ceremonies have been restricted to the barest number of family members.
It is not that I really find such joy standing in a receiving line ready to offer my condolences. As much as I can be accused of being verbose, I find I am usually at a loss for words. Really good words. I want to say really good words. Words that would encourage or offer insight or wisdom. Usually, I just mumble something that I can only hope is appropriately sympathetic.
I also find that the older I get – or maybe it is the ‘mental-pause’ that I am currently mood-swinging my way through – the easier I find it is to cry. For most of my adult life, I have not generally identified as a crier. I like to be a little more in control of my emotions – especially in public. But now I tear up at commercials, choke up during sad movies and I even quaver at the patriotic singing of ‘O Canada.’
So when a dear man from our congregation passed away I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what. The church often does it’s best loving through casseroles and pots of soup but I thought I would try something different. Since the private interment was at a cemetery just down the road I decided that I would just stand – far back – and just be there. No interacting – just standing quietly and respectfully and prayerfully. Then I thought I would make a sign to hold as I stood. That meant I had to find words that would represent a little bit of what our whole congregation was feeling.
It seemed to be appreciated by the family – especially by those who could not be there.
Wil and Sharon also came to stand.
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There have been more losses since then – some were expected and some were a shock. I find that I really do ‘weep with those who are weeping’ and I still don’t have the perfect words to say. But I suppose life is really just full of hellos and goodbyes. It does feel good to be a part of a faith community that shares our goodbyes as a family – a church family – and I am blessed to be part of a wonderful one.
Mrs. Verdonk passed away last week. She was a past member of our congregation and a wonderful role model. She had a servant-heart and blessed many while she lived. I learned so much from her.
Since the graveside ceremony was close by once more, I made another sign and went to stand. Quietly, respectfully and prayerfully and it felt like an honour to do so.
It just seemed like a good way to let the family know that, as a congregation, we loved the dear soul that was their mother and she will be missed. May God grant comfort to those who mourn.