I am getting to the age when going to memorial services is a more frequent occurrence than in times past. The deceased is not always older than I am. Sometimes death was expected after a long illness; at other times, death was sudden and the family is in stunned disbelief. Moreover, because of the circles I travel in, the services are often bittersweet, in that those who know their loved one died in Christ, are rejoicing in his “new address” in Heaven although the sadness of his absence stings.
As is customary, there are eulogies given by children or close friends and a short message by a pastor. Usually, the remembrances are fond and positive, rarely devoting time to negative or annoying traits of the deceased. Yet, most in attendance, if not all, know deep down that regardless of the commending words uttered, there were times when living with that person was challenging. After all, we are talking about redeemed sinners.
To be honest, my mind often wanders at these gatherings. I think of my own departed parents, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances. I am struck with the reality that day-in and day-out, I am encountering people who may have lost someone close to them and I’m not privy to that at all. I only wonder if my impatience or frustrated reactions to them add insult to injury. How easy it is for me to forget about what comes after this life, unless something like the death of another reminds me.
However, this is not true for all people in all professions. Nurses, doctors, EMTs, firefighters, and policemen encounter the possibility of death on a daily basis as part of their work. I imagine they, like us, are still troubled when they encounter it face-to-face, but must steel themselves from outward reactions as they do their jobs. Maybe we should all be more aware of the struggles they go through when they witness injustices, neglect, or recklessness which contributed to ending a life. We should make a point to extend more grace.