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.