I can remember, when I was a child, watching adults interact at funerals. I would observe the conversations, the seemingly normal actions, and particularly the laughter. I knew the stigma of a funeral: dress in black and mourn. So, the laughter always confounded me. “How can you laugh during such a sad occasion?” I thought.
As an adult, experiencing personal loss, I recognize the need for laughter. There are so many happy memories we can share about our loved ones. I realize that funerals aren’t completely cloaked in darkness, as a Christian, we have hope of seeing our loved one again.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine
1 Thessalonians 4:13
…concerning them which are asleep…sorrow not…as others which have no hope.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
But, today’s thought is focused more on the pastor’s wife’s view of funerals. We attend a lot of funerals. Some people we know very well, other people we have never met, and some we knew before but have not been around in a while. Different circumstances can make for awkward moments. You feel compassion for the family and try to glean from your own personal experience to relate. It’s especially difficult when you don’t know the relative personally.
There are times when the family of the deceased are merely acquaintances. I think those are the most awkward funerals to attend. My husband doesn’t face the same awkwardness that I do. Upon arrival at the funeral home, he heads off to meet with the funeral director. He gathers the obituary and order of service, and often times, he remains in the office to gather his thoughts until service begins. This leaves me alone in a room full of strangers for no less than 30 minutes. I greet a few people, cast a smile or nod here or there, visit the ladies room, and check my watch. To my dismay, only five minutes have passed. Friends and family gather early to greet one another, and I’m sure they are all wondering why the strange lady chooses to loiter at a funeral home. I try to find a seat near the back but with a good view of the podium, so at least I can have eye contact with my husband, the only person I know in the room.
Funerals of church members are better (that sounds awful, I’ll try again). Funerals of church members are less awkward. 😊 However, the visitation night can be difficult. It all depends on the individual. There are some people who you know outside of church and share friends or even family. I can almost always find someone to talk to. But, there are other members who I only see on Sunday mornings for a brief hello at the door. For these people, I know very little of their family, coworkers, or friends. You might think you know a person, but when you are surrounded by the people who filled their life, you find out how out of the loop you are. I find myself scoping out the room to see if I recognize anyone. Occasionally, someone might ask how I knew the deceased, but when they hear, “I’m his pastor’s wife.” They quickly need to go talk with another. So again, I search out an empty chair, in a corner, out-of-the-way, and just awkwardly observe. Sometimes being a pastor’s wife is a bit of a party pooper, not that I funeral is a party, but you get my drift.
Finally, the worst funerals are the ones where you don’t know the heart of the person. Thank you Jesus that I am not God, and it’s not my responsibility to cast judgment. My job is to simply show love. It’s my prayer to offer faith, hope, and love to the family members who remain by being present and showing my support.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.