Funeral Homily

Myths, Truths, and Observations

A funeral homily for the tragic death of a woman’s child and parents

Myths, Truths, and Observations

By Pastor Steven Molin
One year ago, the phone call at 2 AM from Barbara, “Pastor Steve, this is Barbara Marshall, I’m sorry to wake you but there’s been a fire and David died, and so did my parents.”

Everything about that Sunday changed.  There was sadness spread over our congregation like a heavy blanket.  We tried to celebrate Reformation Sunday, but most of us were thinking about Jack and Barbara and Bob, and of course, David.

As I thought about this service, and a time to remember David, I decided to share three different thoughts.  Myths, Truths and Observations I have made over the past year.

MYTHS – Misconceptions people have or stupid things people say when a child dies.

• “God must have needed another angel in heaven, and that’s why he took David.”

I don’t believe that for a minute, and neither should you.  I don’t know if I could love a God or trust a God who would cause such immense earthly pain for his heavenly pleasure.

• “Isn’t it nice that Barbara’s parents died at the same time as David so they can watch over David in heaven.”

That’s horrible theology.  When Barbara’s parents died, it multiplied the tragedy one hundred fold.  Isn’t it true that, when problems arise in our lives, we go to our families- our parents and our siblings – for comfort?  When the Aderholts died, Barbara and David lost that opportunity, and Barbara’s siblings had their own grief to deal with.

• “After the first anniversary of the deaths, life will get back to normal.”

The question is, “what’s normal?”  Jack and Barbara and Bob will always grieve David’s death.  Always.  As time passes, the pain may lessen, but it will always be there.  Someday, life will be good again.  Already they have begun to smile and laugh again.  But to put a one year timetable on their grief is inappropriate.

People grieve in different ways and at different rates.  There is no prescribed method for grief, or a set period as to how long it should last.  There is no right way or wrong way to grieve.

TRUTHS – What scripture says about death and grief.

When David and Barbara’s parents died, God grieved; in fact, I would suggest that God was the first to grieve.  (“And Jesus wept.” John 11:35)

• God was there that night in that house (Yea, though I go the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me, Lord.  Your rod and your staff comfort me…” Psalm 23)

• David did not belong to Barbara and Dave, but God (But now, says the Lord, your creator, O David, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1)

• And the Baptismal promise (“David, Child of God; you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.”)

• David inherited the Kingdom (And they began bringing children to him, so that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:13)

OBSERVATIONS – Things I’ve noticed this year.

• Jack and Barbara –

Your faith and courage have been amazing.

You have not tried to hide your grief from us.

You have not pretended “all is well” when it isn’t.

You have shared your honest feelings of anger, pain, and frustration.

You have asked honest questions of me, of God and of others.

You have allowed us into your grief…and it has helped us in ours…

Thank you!

• Members of Our Savior’s-

You have talked about David and shared your remembrances of him.

You have kept the Marshall’s in your prayers.

You have given the Marshall’s hugs – and you have also given them space.

• Friends of Jack and Barbara and Bob-

Food, notes, phone calls…yourselves.

You have been there!  That’s no small thing!

Compassionate Friends survey found that  80% find their greatest support from family. and friends.  Not clergy, not funeral directors, not counselors.  But friends and family.

You are here for them today, and I know you will be there tomorrow.

Copyright 2008, Steven Molin. Used by permission.