It was a bleak, grey and cold day as I sat in the cafe nervously going over the Funeral Service I had prepared. Reading and re-reading my Bible talk, wanting it to be of hope and comfort, but also feeling like my words would be nothing more than confetti or fairy-floss.
I had never conducted a Funeral Service before. It was only five days earlier that my friend had called to tell me the awful news - her Father had suffered a sudden heart attack and died. My mouth felt dry and thick, and words were suddenly double-parking themselves in my head, unwilling to be moved toward my lips. I wanted to say the “right thing” but only awkward cliches and platitudes were escaping.
My friend asked me if I would conduct the Funeral Service and of course I was honored - terrified but honored. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my Dad. Your parents are just one of those permanent fixtures in life that you cant imagine existing without.
The time for the Service had arrived, I gathered up my papers and headed towards the Crematorium. The Service went smoothly and was a wonderful celebration of my friend’s Father’s life - many great stories told, many memories shared and an excellent photo slideshow. Although it got me thinking - how can you sum up someone’s life in 45 minutes? The 200+ mourners then headed to an afternoon tea to continue chatting, remembering and reflecting upon their now lost friend, father and Husband.
Although a few weeks have passed since that day, it is still very fresh in my mind; the conversations had, the memories shared, and the feeling of loss and sadness. I pray and trust that I was helpful to my friend and her family during the day and since. I have also had some time to reflect on what I learnt that day, as I conducted my first Funeral Service - some initial thoughts:-
- Death is still the unspoken fear & enemy of most Australians and subsequently they find death and Funerals extremely unsettling and awkward
- People look to loving, servant leadership during this time as they are unsure how to deal with death and funerals and all that goes with it. As awkward and ill-equipped as I felt to take the “lead” my friend and her family seemed glad to have someone serve them by leading them through this time
- Funerals are a unique situation where people are faced with their own mortality and are inclined to reflect on life more than they would otherwise.
- Funerals are a marvelous opportunity to lovingly and sensitively share the hope of Jesus and the reality that this life is not all there is