I've done words for a long time. I've been around funerals and memorial services for a long time, too. I want to give you a lesson that I am constantly telling myself because I keep forgetting it. Here's the lesson: people forget what you say. You can offer the best words, the clearest outline, the … Continue reading The most important lesson for a funeral service.
What if you and four friends said, “No one is eating alone after a funeral. Churches have meals for members. We’re going to offer meals to families who don’t have churches.” And you became known as the people who were there in the hardest moments of life, not with answers but with presence. What if you provided potluck and pie?
What do you say at the grave of a stillborn baby? A person who was moving in the womb and then wasn't. A person who was part of a story that parents were writing and dreaming and decorating for, and then that story stopped. I'm not sure what you should say. But I thought it might be helpful to tell you what I said once.
“What do we do?” The dad was holding the baby. About 30 weeks in the womb, the first 28 of those growing, moving. The last two motionless. Now, this couple was thinking about the services that would honor their child who had no list of accomplishment to eulogize. Here's what I told them.
I think they were nine and twelve. But I’m terrible with figuring out the ages of kids, and I’ve decided that asking isn’t helpful. Instead, I start listening and start talking and calibrate my vocabulary and concepts to the responses I’m getting. Thirty feet away, through an open door, a public hallway, and a closed … Continue reading A conversation with kids about death.
Here are the words I use every time I begin a funeral service. We don’t want to be here. Just so that’s clear. We’re here because when God made us, he built us to respect lives, and to acknowledge that when an earthly life ends, something significant changes. There is something that is right about … Continue reading How to start a funeral service
At our hospital, chaplains are the people with the responsibility and opportunity to ask families what funeral home they will be using for their loved one. It's a difficult time, shortly after the death. And yet, it's a helpful question because it gives the family something to do, a clear sense of the most immediate … Continue reading One way to find a funeral home.