Vital Signs

Funerals are rough. That anyone would die before his time makes them rougher. But, amazingly enough, they’re also comforting.

I spent much of last week with a friend who recently lost her husband to a drunk driver (scroll down to “You Know Who You Are”). What I’ve learned from the experience so far is worth sharing. Maybe it will be comforting to you, or maybe it can serve as a warning to wake up. Either way, just writing this will be healing and helpful for me, so bear with me during a bit of selfishness.

First thing I learned is the reason why St. Paul says not to “let the sun set on your wrath.” You have absolutely no guarantee you’ll wake up in the morning with the opportunity to apologize or reconcile. Settling a painful matter immediately is vital. Don’t let things drag on, don’t assume you have time to make amends. Do all you can to bring things to a peaceful solution, and if no one else cooperates, at least you’ve done what you could before the Lord.

“Tomorrow is another day,” says Scarlett O’Hara.

“I love you, tomorrow. You’re only a day a way!” says Annie.

But not one person on this earth is guaranteed a tomorrow. As much as possible, settle your disputes today.

Friends are vital during hard times. Grieving families need friends–all of them, from the closest to the most distant who can do nothing more than bring a casserole to show their love. What I witnessed illustrated more about the vitality of friends than anything else I’ve experienced in my life. Close friends hold you up. Watching the kids’ friends embrace them and circle them with love and comfort was incredible. The kids leaned on their friends to keep from leaning too hard on their mother, just as their mother leaned on her friends and family. But the best friends out there were their father’s friends. His childhood friends, who knew him before they did, filled in blanks and provided them with stories they could laugh at and relate to. Office friends filled in more blanks, gave the family a peek into his work life, gave them reason to be proud. His personal friends also shared stories and the love they had for him.

Friends are the manifestation of God’s love. They’re His arms for hugging, His ears for listening, His heart for sharing. Friends cry God’s tears for Him and provide His physical comfort to those who need Him.

Closely attached to the lesson about friends is the lesson of laughter. Laughter is also vital during these times. Laughter through tears is healing. To listen to a friend’s story and laugh and say, “That sounds just like him!” heals the heart and lessens the pain. Just a little. Just a bit. But that little bit is vital. It’s a promise that one day you will laugh again. It’s proof that you can laugh. It puts the tiniest sliver of silver lining along that dark, thunderous cloud. It helps lighten a heavy load.

Peaceful relationships, friends, laughter are important any time during one’s life, but during hard times, they’re vital. Reconcile. Keep in touch. Giggle on a regular basis. Check your vital signs.


About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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13 Responses to Vital Signs

  1. Lynn Mosher says:

    Oh, Linda, this is such a wonderful post, so touching in a time of tragedy. Your point of giggling and laughing is so true. It has been proven that tragic and negative thoughts dig into our brains like trees, attaching themselves and ultimately causing physical sickness. However, positive thoughts and laughter can knock out and replace those trees of destruction to rebuild our brains. I am praying for you and the family. It is such a hard time and the family needs special prayers for the holidays, as the first ones without a loved one can be devastating. Blessings to you!


  2. KatC says:

    Excellent, Linda! Brought a tear to my eye and made me take stock of my life. Thanks for that.


  3. Linda Yezak says:

    Thanks you two. Keep the family in your prayers, okay?


  4. K.M. Weiland says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how God offers precious blessings even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable tragedy. My prayers are still with this family, and with you.


  5. Nikole Hahn says:

    It sounds as if you are doing better today. I hope the family is doing okay.


  6. Lisa Grace says:

    Thank you for reminding us tomorrow is never guaranteed. I will keep praying for you and your friend’s family. Keep smiling and laughing. It helps to have a cheerful you.:) Lisa


  7. As you probably already know, my stepfather passed away last month. The thing that made his death most bearable, second only to the knowledge he’s in Heaven now, is the gracious and empathetic support of friends and family. Even my Sunday School teacher showed up for the funeral, though he had never met the man in life. It’s good to see so many people grieving that he was gone.

    ~ VT


  8. Linda Yezak says:

    Thanks for your comment and prayers everyone.

    Victor–I remember about your stepfather. I’m glad you had the comfort of friends and family.


  9. Annie says:

    This is beautiful! I read something about what to say when a someone dies as most often ‘I’m sorry’ just does not seem enough. The article mentioned just being with the person who is grieving, without saying anything, is sometimes just what the person needs. I also feel laughter is necessary as well. I remember when my grandma died. My kids were remembering all the fun they had with her. So I was not only crying but also laughing. And I believe she would have wanted to be remembered with a chuckle rather than a tear.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Annie, thanks for the comment. I believe laughter eases the pain, and I know Sharon’s husband would’ve liked to be remember with a chuckle too.


  10. Lorna G. Poston says:

    Great post, Linda.


  11. Beautiful piece of writing with important advice.

    A previous pastor once told of a woman who assigned herself a simple task in the event of a death. She showed up at the door to polish shoes.


  12. linda yezak says:

    Thanks Lorna.

    Sandy–polishing shoes is right up there with washing feet as a sign of love. Thanks for sharing.


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