Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yesterday I went to a funeral. A co-worker's wife passed away last week after a 10 year bout with cancer.
Having lost my first wife to cancer 12 years ago, I wanted to lend support, but I felt inadequate. However, I've learned not to let a sense of inadequacy stop me, so I went. An old hymn says, "We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling..."
My friend had told me six months ago that his wife's cancer had returned. We talked a bit, I gave him a hug and offered my "encouraging" words. At the reception, after the funeral, my friend informed someone that my words back then had helped him. What profundity had I shared? I had simply said, "It sucks."
Helping someone die is difficult. Watching your best friend and true love slowly evaporate sucks. It just does.
But then it ends. Death arrives and sorrow fully invades.
"Today is the worst day of my life. Don, just tell me everything's going to be okay." These were my friend's words just before the grave-side portion of the funeral as we hugged. I'm no liar... I paused... and I said in his ear, "Everything's going to be okay."
Life goes on. The worst day ends. New days come. Pain fades to ache.
Love never ends. Memories last. But eventually, everything is okay.
Those who have been bereaved unknowingly become members of what I call, "the fraternity of the broken-hearted." It's co-ed.
Encouraging words most often flow from a sense of compassion and care. Compassion is born through personal suffering.
The light of encouragement shines out not through the beautiful stained glass of our accomplishments, but the light of encouragement shines out through the cracks of our shattered humanity. A broken heart can be a good lamp.
I have believed... therefore I have spoken. God is good, but sometimes, life sucks.