Monday, February 9, 2009
Going back to the funeral/comfort
It is still nearly impossible to think and talk about anything else besides the tragedy, the funeral and the community in relation to it.
Last night I went for a long walk with my neighbor Jill, in the dark by the full moon light (not so dark, with the reflection off the snow). She is more like a sister to me. We've known each other well for a long time. Her children are really suffering now, as they were close to Stefan. They see the truck on the driveway and the light is never on in his room.
She told me again, what I hear all the time, that Stefan's funeral was very "comforting". I don't know if people say this to families of the bereaved all the time, or if our funeral was particularly comforting.
My opinion is that it probably was particularly comforting for a number of reasons.
(I am thinking about what I should say, when they tell me it was so comforting. Usually, I say, it was just a simple Christian funeral service from the service book with hymns from the hymn book, with the emphasis on "Christian". Now, I'm thinking maybe I can come up with something a little more in depth than that saying something more about our faith. Or maybe I can find out from them what it was they found comforting.)
Martin and I had made a number of deliberate choices about the funeral. First of all there was, of course, the service itself, the hymns, the readings and the sermon.
Some of the other choices: first of all we did not have a power point with pictures of the deceased's life. We wanted the service to be more about Jesus Christ than Stefan and our family. Secondly, we did not have a pile of teary tributes. Just one read by Auntie Dagmar with enough emotion showing we are actually grieving. Thirdly, we did not have an open casket to avoid having a lot of hysterical teenagers. (People wondered if the body was in too bad a shape. No, the body was in ok enough shape.)
We did have pictures in the large entry way, where people could look at them at their own pace with their friends. We also let the young people take all the roses home with them. I chose all red roses for the casket spray and the sides, so everyone could have a rose. It did not make sense to any of us to take all the flowers out at 30 below.
Andrea has fielded a few sad and angry comments on the tribute page on Facebook about the unfairness of life/God, etc. , and has sent those commenters to Dr. Krispin's sermon posted also on Facebook. That seems to have "comforted" them, as well.
All in all, the funeral, even with the stresses was a comfort to us, too, as it was "Christian", beautiful and dignified, with lots of time to share and cry afterward, as much as you needed. I am very grateful to everyone who helped, which were many hands and voices, indeed.
And, yes, now I feel I should say or write something more in depth about our faith. It would have to be something like: without Christ, there is no real comfort at a time like this; without Christ, this fleeting, passing life makes no sense, anyways; without Christ death would be only devouring horror; without Christ, there is only unfairness, sorrow and guilt. Only in Christ is there anything like comfort, meaning, hope, forgiveness, yes, even gratitude for the gifts that were and remain.