Monday, September 26, 2011

In the Midst of It...

A few days ago I heard that one of my closest friends from 8th grade died unexpectedly.  I hadn't really talked to her since 8th grade, almost 20 years ago.  But I felt compelled to go to the funeral visitation.  I distinctly remember someone coming to my late husband's visitation who was a friend from middle school. And the fact that someone cared enough to come, especially from such a distant relationship in the past touched me deeply.  So tonight was my opportunity.

As I pulled up to the funeral home I thought very presumptuously, "Oh I've been here so much I am immune to this place."  And in some ways that was true.  I had spent the summer planning, ordering and making changes to my late husband's grave marker.  Which involved numerous appointments at the funeral home.  A few of those appointments where emotionally difficult at moments, but overall it was a peaceful experience.

Sitting in the parking lot tonight I was reflecting on those experiences, thinking how great it was this place didn't carry the "sting" it once did.  As I walked in I greeted one of the staff, Tom, who I recall from not only my late husband's funeral, but my sisters as well.  He remembered me and I gave him a brief hug.  It was at that moment that I realized what I was about to face: the room.  The same room in which I had said goodbye to my husband.  The same room where I gave the eulogy for my sister.  Of course it was that room,  I shouldn't have been surprised.  Life has a way of being like that.

So I take a deep breath and enter.  As I stepped into the room, I slowly begin to shake, and tears fill my eyes.  I can't even put words on what was happening.  There were no thoughts going through my head. Just tears, and shaking.  I tried to stay strong, but I was overwhelmed.  Not at the loss of the friend.  It wasn't her funeral I was reacting to.

I was almost embarrassed.  A room full of people I don't know, and a visitation for a friend I hadn't seen in 20 years, and here I am fighting back tears and shaking.  All of a sudden I was caught up in the moments of what I have lost.  When you lose someone so close there is an odd strength that comes upon you during the funeral process. The grace of God shows up.  Add to that the fact that you are still walking in a state of shock.  To an extent your emotions are numb.  But tonight, here I was, absolutely in no way expecting a response like this.  My emotions were raw, no longer numb like the last two times I had entered that room.  My guard was down.  And up it flooded- more healing.

After signing the guest book, I had to get out.  Catch my breath, cry, pray, whatever I needed to do.  So I called for reinforcements- Julie, my widowed bff.  She'd understand.  Over the phone she lovingly encouraged me.  "Don't suppress Jenn.  Live in the moment.  Do what you have to do.  Let God heal you." She even called this moment beautiful.  She prayed for me, so that I could go back in and greet the family, and to say whatever it is God wants them to hear.

In the midst of this healing moment, that is exactly what I did.  I walked up to the parents and introduced myself.  I was still a little emotional, and felt the need to briefly explain. I feel that my honesty, and maybe even the "rawness" of my emotions at this moment touched them.  I know that the words I spoke won't take away the pain, only God can.  I know that my compassion won't heal them, only God can.  But I took that moment to show them love.  Not to encourage them with false words, but to be real.  "Yes life sucks sometimes.  And sometimes it just doesn't make sense.  But know that there are people who understand.  I have been there.  I get it, and I'm praying for you!"  I will continue to pray for this family.  That God will heal their hearts, and help them to find peace in the midst of this horrible situation.

I feel a kinship with them, with any family actually, that has experienced a tragic loss such as this.  And I am amazed that even while I was going there with them in mind- God took a moment to once again take a piece of brokenness in my heart and replace it with another layer of healing.


  1. You are an amazing woman and I love you. I am constantly impressed by your faith and your relationship with God, but it has always been strong. Praying for you always, Amanda

  2. Amanda, thank you. I am grateful for having that strong faith and a close relationship with Jesus. Without it I wouldn't have made it through. Its all HIM! Thanks for all your prayers! Love ya!