A few weeks ago I officiated my first funeral. Though an honor to be asked to officiate such a ceremony, this was a tragedy for family, friends and the church. I struggled my way through it in the best way I knew how, grabbing sermons from others and crafting something of my own, which you can find attached at the end of this post. Fighting back tears and doing my best to deliver a message, this was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in ministry yet.
The funeral wasn’t for one person, but two. One of my students lost both of her parents to a drunk driver. Just like that…gone. Unfair. Unjust. Unable to comprehend and explain. I had many family and their friends approach me with “why’s?”
I became comfortable in responding this way, the only way I knew how…
We weren’t created to understand death, we weren’t made to fathom separation from others. We were created for life, life with God and life with each other. When we see life taken from us whether young or old, it never feels right nor should it. We can’t seem to accept death, but we should accept that God has a reassuring hope for us. Through the person of Jesus, He gives us access to life with God and a future-Eden to look forward to in this most desperate time.
Things I recommend you should NOT say to someone that just lost a loved one:
- “I know what you are going through right now.” You probably don’t. Everyone has their own experience, their own relationships, and their own emotions.
- “Are you okay?” No they aren’t! That may sound reassuring but it’s tough right now, and “okay” is a long way away.
- “This is the best thing that could have happened to them.” Perhaps, if the person was suffering. But let the loved one state that, it’s not your place.
Simply state you are sorry for what they are having to endure and ask if they have any needs that you can help meet during this time. Delivering meals, house cleaning, yard work, etc. These small things can really help out a family during the loss of a loved one.
Attached here is my manuscript (names have been altered to respect the family), feel free to use it as a resource as you serve others. Funeral_Manuscript_Parker