Yesterday my brother-in-law who helped raise me and was a father to me, was laid to rest. A great number of people attended the visitation, funeral and graveside service. Due to my health I was only able to attend the graveside service, but I was very thankful I could be there at all.
My husband has officiated at over 200 funerals and as his wife I have attended my fair share in years past. What we have learned is that funerals are kind of a mixed bag of emotions. For those who are Christians the service is a place not only to grieve the death of a loved one, but it is a place of celebration for that person's life. It is what we call grieving with hope~the hope of knowing our loved ones have gone to heaven to be with our Lord and that someday we will all be together again.
The lunch that follows is usually a time of not only expressing our condolences to the family, but also a time of sharing stories about the person who has died, and a time for fellowship with people we may not see very often. You will see tears and deep sadness along with laughter and joy filling the hearts of those who sit together, communing with nourishment. Nourishment not only for their bodies, but for their souls.
As Christians we have the peace of knowing that our loved ones who die before us are with our Lord. They are safe, secure and no longer enduring any earthly trials. We will miss them terribly and often an empty place finds permanent residence within us, but when we lift our eyes to the Heavens we will also be able to see through our pain to a quiet place of assurance in knowing. Knowing that they are in HIS presence.
Grieving with HOPE.