People who are in grief want to talk about the person who has died. The want to speak the person’s name. They want to share memories. They want to laugh about the funny things the person said and did and believed.
In pastoral ministry, one of the most important things you can say is, “Tell me about . . . “ and then fill in the name. The half-sentence is a constant; the variation comes through the names of people being remembered.
I suppose this is on my mind because I’ve had two funerals in the space of two days.
I take funerals seriously as a pastor and we take them seriously as a church. We make sure that our musicians are spot on and that the visuals are inspiring and that the family feels cared for.
My goal in a funeral message is two-fold: 1) to give expression to some truths about the person who has just died — to articulate what people in grief are feeling but don’t have the words to say in the moment; and 2) to give permission to family and friends to grieve. People sometimes feel that grieving is a lack of faith in their loved one’s eternal salvation; nothing could be further from the truth. Grief is simply an acknowledgment that there was deep love for the person now gone. We give people permission to own that and feel that.
And that half-sentence allows people to enter into the full measure of both their grief and the Lord’s comfort.