It’s been quite a while since I sat in a funeral home office and tended to the business of death. (Just over sixteen years to be exact.) In that span of time, I had forgotten about all that, but last Friday my husband and I sat once again in the office of a funeral home. This time we sat with our sister-in-law while, as best she could, she worked through the mound of paperwork and decisions it takes to place a loved one to rest. It’s a lot. And it is expensive.
As the funeral home staff walked her through everything, I sat there thinking, “Oh my goodness, but this is costly.” My brother-in-law would have likely had a cow if he had known what even the simplest of burials was going to cost. He was a no-frills kind of person, and had instructed his wife that should this day come that “simple” should rule the day. She did her best to abide by his wishes, and bravely moved through the process.
In the few days after my brother-in-law passed from this life into the next, I noticed once again how life as we know it was put on pause. Not everyone’s life, but for my brother-in-law’s family everything seemed to stop. Work. School. Even vacations stopped. And the wild thing is, as much as we think life just must go on as planned, in times like these, we find that it can, indeed, be set on pause.
It’s all a part of the process and everyone knows it. People need time. Time to process things, and time to begin the task of moving on with life. Life without someone they are used to having around.
I noticed over the next few days that words failed me. I love words, and usually they are my friends, but during times like these, they are often empty and seem to fall flat. As I hugged my sister-in-law at the funeral I asked her, “How are you doing?” …I know. It was a stupid question. I told her it was, and I took it back. I asked her to forget I had asked it. Again, words had failed me.
We took comfort in knowing that my brother-in-law had chosen to follow Jesus and is now in the presence of the Most High, but even articulating that seemed inadequate somehow. Sometimes there just aren’t words.
I think that when we lose someone significant in our lives we cannot help but think about our own lives, our own mortality. From the moment of our birth, the dying process starts.
How sad a thought is that?
It’s so sad, in fact, that we rarely take the time to think about it until we are forced to. But as sad as that thought is, God has provided us a rescue. A way out. Because of the sacrifice of His son our lives are saved. What appears to be an ending is only, really, a beginning. For only in dying, as followers of Christ, do we really begin to live.
So what are we supposed to do in the meantime? What is life here really for if the next life is where it’s really at? Before our loved ones are faced with the business of our death, we must be about the business of our life.
Our brief time here on this spinning blue planet should be nothing short of a living testimony to the One who spares us eternal death. Through our struggles and our disappointments, as well as in the midst of our joys and days of awesomeness, our lives should reflect the glory of our Creator. When our days on this earth are done, we should leave behind a life worth celebrating. A life that points to the One who gave us that life, and who loved us enough to make sure this world isn’t all there is.