Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Paying Your Respects
"You don't pay respect to a person at their funeral. They aren't there. Its how you treat them when they are alive that shows your respect." My late husband said this to me as we were discussing my grandmother's quickly approaching death. I will never forget this quote. Although he was not the most sentimental of people, as is reflected in what he said, there is a lot of truth here. And it is something that stuck with me as I faced the death of my "real" father in May 2009, two uncles a few months following, my husband in November 2010, and my sister in March 2011. While he underplayed the importance of the funeral in the healing process and closure, he had a very valid point. Its really is how we interact with a person while they are alive that shows our love and respect for them. I call it honor.
Honoring a person begins in during their life, and doesn't stop when they die. Yes we honor them at the funeral: by sharing their life with those who come, by telling of their accomplishments, by focusing on their strengths, and putting aside their weaknesses. We celebrate their life in stories, pictures, videos, and awards. But I've come to understand that we continue to honor or dishonor them even after they die. And its in the way we treat their survivors.
"The Lord bless him!" Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. "He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." Ruth 2:20
Naomi was referring to a man named Boaz who was showing kindness to her daughter-in-law Ruth, a widow. Even though Boaz didn't interact with Ruth's late husband, he receives credit as if he did because he showed continued kindness to Ruth. And it says here God will bless him for it!
I read that verse months ago and immediately sent it to my bff- who was widowed a year before me. I said something along the line of: "God rewards people who honor us! And when they honor us they are honoring our husbands. Amazing!" God sees it one in the same. Kindness expressed towards me is kindness expressed to my late husband, and it leads to God's blessing in their life!
I have seen this exemplified by the guys at work. I am now running the small business my late husband started and owned. His employees loved him dearly. They gave him their blood, sweat and tears. In fact "the guys", as we referred to them, were his pall bearers, and were treated as family the entire funeral process. There are 3 of them in particular who have made a point to honor me since his death. I get to work closely with them, as they are the managers of the company. These guys have my back!!! They look out for me, and are willing to go the extra mile for me. More and more I am realizing though that its not about me. Its about honoring the deceased- their "boss". They are honoring and protecting me because of their love for him. I'm simply reaping the benefits. And I have no doubt that God is going to honor them for taking good care of me. He promised it!
"The guys" aren't the only ones who have really stepped up and been there for me. There is a family that has come through for me every time I get in a pinch with child care. This family has been a rock for me and made so many things possible: giving me the opportunity to spend every day with my sister the week before she died, having my son waiting for me at the finish line of my first 5K race and even babysitting weekly so I can takes classes for ministry school. They don't do it to be the super hero family, although to me they are. They do it because of the love they have for Jesus. And again as they honor me in this way, they are honoring the deceased.
I am grateful for all the people who are sensitive to the unique needs I have as a widow. So many people walk through life, too busy to notice. But Jesus made a point of telling the church to take care of widows and orphans. That's me. That's my son. And every time someone does something for us, God sees it. And He will bless them for showing kindness to the living and the dead.