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The cost of my distraction

About 7700 people die each day in the US. That’s what the National Vital Statistics report says was true for 2017. That doesn’t include the one in four or so pregnancies that end in miscarriage. I’m not going to do the daily calculations for those sadnesses.

I mention this only because it means that there are roughly that many funerals or memorial services or celebrations of life or graveside services or moments where people say, “He didn’t want anything done. But here’s to Uncle Dave.”

In one or two of those gatherings, at least, someone is leading for the first time and could use the book I’m working on, the book I’m allowing myself to be distracted from finishing.

By now, perhaps, you know that I don’t talk about political positions. But I have many friends and acquaintances that do. And they are people who, if I believe what they say, apparently view each other with disdain. They, perhaps you, write with great passion, thoughtfulness, and often stunning illogic. And I find myself following these threads of opinion from all sides, thinking about how to respond, knowing that it would be one more opinion to add fuel to one fire or another.

Meanwhile, about 7700 people die each day in the US. Each family is distracted from the flurry of expressions of political opinion by the deep pain they feel and the deep loss they experience.

Every accumulated hour of reading what doesn’t matter means that the help I can offer to people who are attempting with words to give meaning to those lives is delayed longer. An hour becomes a day delay becomes a week becomes a month. And now we’re at 231,000 people who have died in the last month. And the ones who die not born.

I’m not sure that I want to unfollow everyone who expresses an opinion. That accomplishes little. But I’m pretty sure that I can be more help in the world if I spend more time being less distracted. And more time being helpful to the people who are trying to give help.

It’s likely that someone you know knows one of those 7700 people from today, or one of the 231,000 from this month.

Perhaps you can join me in learning to provide comfort and reduce distress.


You can read the current draft at Giving a Life Meaning: How To Lead a Funeral or Memorial Service.

Filed under: Practical-funeral

About the Author

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Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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