Hospice Memorial Service Hebrews 11:4
13 November 2018
Hospice Memorial Service Thoughts
There are moments in which the preciousness of life is so clear: the birth of a child, the first day of kindergarten for your child, the wedding day for your children, the day you become empty-nesters, and the death of a loved one. Each marks an ending, and a beginning.
Tonight we all have something in common. We all love deeply, and we hurt deeply because our loved one(s) is/are no longer here with us in the way to which we’d grown accustomed- birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, graduations, sports, church we realize someone who should be there is not.
There are those times when we feel like we are getting this thing called grief under control- get blind-sided when we open up Facebook and the first thing we see is a time-hop photo of our loved one. Become overwhelmed with emotion.
C. S. Lewis observed after the death of his wife that he was resentful if people asked him how he was as he often wanted to be alone in his thoughts and didn’t know how to even begin to answer the question, but he was just as resentful when people didn’t ask after him, observing that "no one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear."
Can we allow ourselves time to share memories and tears with others who also know love and how it hurts?
Memories that I have thought about this past year since my mother-in-law passed away and two and a half years since my father-in-law passed away.
Sitting on the couch with my palms sweating, getting ready to ask MB’s parents if I could marry their daughter, and when I asked them if I could talk to them about something important and was told to wait until their favorite weekly TV show was over.
Thought about the times I was told, I was their favorite son-in-law, that was great until it dawned on me I was the only son-in-law
After my mother-in-law’s passing, I would no longer make her coffee and have our morning chat
Trips to doctor offices knowing that a trip to DQ would follow shortly
After the memories, came thoughts of loss of my identity, or my perceived identity. After her passing I felt lost, what am I going to do? What gives my life meaning and purpose? It was then that I discovered, my loved ones who passed away were a precious gift from God for a time and a season, but they were not essential for defining life or what made life worth living.
Grief is, in one way, a costly consequence of love. The writer, Hilary Stanton Zunin observes that “The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief”. We grieve because we feel the pain of loss, but we also grieve because of the strength of our love for the person that we have come here to remember today. That love continues and grief does not diminish it and often in the early months after death we feel that love even stronger than we did before. The only way we can avoid the pain of grief is by also avoiding the joy of love.
What brings us here ultimately today is not grief, but love – love for the person that has died, love that carries on in spite of their death, love that will carry on.
(NIV): And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
I still hear my mother-in-law ask her daughter, “do you wish this never happened?” Then I hear, “even in this there is something to be thankful for.”
I still hear the conservation between the surgeon and my father-in-law.
I spend my weekend helping people get into heaven
I spend my week days trying to keep them out of heaven
I am sorry I cannot keep you out.
One of the most powerful things we have today is our memories.
Today I still grieve but I grieve with hope.
Let me share with you a story; a fictional one, but it holds an element of truth: A man was diagnosed with cancer. As a way to regain some control, he met with his pastor to get his funeral in order. He chose what was to be read, what songs to be sung. He had a final request: “I want to be buried with a fork in my hand.”
The pastor couldn’t hide his perplexed look. The man explained “My favorite part of going to potlucks was when the main course was cleared. Someone would always lean over and tell me to keep my fork. I knew something better was coming along, like key lime pie or chocolate cake. Something wonderfully sweet with substance! “So when people see me in my casket with a fork in my hand and wonder ‘Why?’, I want you to tell them ‘The best is yet to come.’” Sure enough, at the funeral, people asked “Why the fork?” The pastor answered, with a smile that spoke of eternity, “To remind us that the best is yet to come.”
“The best is yet to come”
That was my father-in-laws favorite saying.
“There is always something to be thankful for.”
My mother-in-law’s favorite saying