Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ministering to the Bereaved

Last week, my husband preached his maternal grandfather's funeral.  It was a great honor to him, to be able to reflect on his father's life publicly and to share the gospel with those who need the Lord.

I was unable to attend either of my grandparents' funerals.  I took a toddler and four-day-old baby (along with the aide of my husband and mother-in-law) on a six hour journey to see my grandfather just before his death.  Upon our return home, literally just after walking through the door, I received the phone call that he had passed away.  Grateful to have seen him and had a good conversation telling him about his new great-granddaughter, I didn't want to put my family through the torture of traveling again for his funeral.  When my grandmother passed away, I again had a newborn, less than a week old.  Then, with three children, my husband made the journey alone to help preach her funeral.

Reflecting on these times anew because of our recent "loss" and the gracious love poured out on us, I was reminded of all the good things we can do to show love during times of bereavement.  I have to admit that I had grown a little callous in the way I've handled preparing meals for those in their sorrow.  I needed the reminder of what a ministry it can be to do these simple tasks.

It is incredibly helpful to prepare meals for those going through the loss of a loved one.  When I came home after seeing my grandad, a church member brought our family a meal and a simple Christmas wreath for my door (it was December).  After the long journey, it was nice to just be able to sit down at mealtime.  Again, this time, it was so nice to not have to think about getting meals together.  At least two churches and some coworkers of folks in the family brought meals.  We didn't have to worry about lunch or dinner.  Some great friends (a brother and sister in Christ) even brought breakfast to us one morning.  I hope to not forget this blessing in the future.

Attending a funeral is an especially touching gesture.  One of the ways the pain of a loss is softened is by seeing loved ones.  The impromptu family reunions that come about through funerals is a bittersweet blessing.  Older folks are much more inclined to attend funerals, and I suppose it is because more of them are free to do so because of retirement, but when younger folks can be free, it is so nice.  I was especially touched by one of my husband's cousins (on the other side of the family), her husband, and baby attending the funeral.  I knew it took effort, but I felt such love from them for my mother-in-law.  It was worth it.

Providing childcare is a big help!  My oldest daughter (almost seven) wanted to stand in the receiving line prior to the funeral, and it was great to see her be so ladylike.  On the other hand, there's no way my youngest two, especially, would've made it through that or the funeral.  Praise God for some friends of the family we knew could be trusted to care for our children (mine and my sister-in-law's) for a couple of hours.

Hopefully, going through this time will help me to minister better in the future!

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