Yeah I know, pretty morbid title.
Two days ago, I attended the funeral of a man who was baptized in our church 12 years ago. There were a lot of issues he was facing and tragically took his life. I’ve been to many funerals and have been emotional to a certain extent at all of them, if I knew the person definitely, but at least empathizing with the family if I didn’t. The thing that made this extra difficult for me was that he was only 23 years old.
I’ve dedicated my life to ministering to young adults, primarily between 18-25 years old. I ponder the multitudes of things in life he’ll never experience or accomplish. The other tragedy was watching his mom’s grief. She handled it well until they were about to close the casket. She began sobbing, trembling, holding on to his body, hyperventilating and was almost on the verge of hysteria. No mother should have to bury her son, but especially no one that young. Afterwards, they released multi-colored balloons in his honor.
But it once again reminds me of how short really life is. None of us know when we’re going to die or when one of our loved ones will pass away. We don’t know if we’ll be able to say goodbye before it happens. This lifetime is the only shot we have to get things done.
I often ask our college students “if you knew you were going to die in the next 24 hours, what would you do?” The answers vary: get right with God, share their faith with those close to them, have certain conversations with people, and have sex. Haha. My response is “why aren’t you doing that now?”
Years ago, I used to have a floppy disk with files of different letters I had written in case I die. It was to the closest people in my life: family, a few friends, and mentors. I wanted to make sure that they knew exactly what was in my heart and my final words for them. I don’t know where that disk is any more but I know there are some things that need to be taken care of.
But based on others’ tragedies, I want to make sure I live a life with no regrets. My encouragement to my friends is to take care of all business now.
Get right what needs to get right.
How is my relationship with God? Am I really following Him? Are there sins that go unconfessed? Am I trusting in Him completely for my salvation? Do we really know Him and does He know us?
Say what needs to be said.
I’ve seen way too much regret at funerals. Children who never apologized to their parents. Parents who were estranged from their kids. Siblings who fought for decades. Embittered sons who simply wanted to tell their dads simply that they loved them. Daughters wanting to thank their moms for their sacrifice.
Forgive who needs to be forgiven.
This is a tough one. The bitter people who have shown up at viewings and barely even approach the casket because they’re still seething over something that has festered far too long. Ted Turner in an interview when he reached $10 billion asked, “Is that enough, Dad? Are you proud of me yet?” Tragically his father had been dead for 15 years when he said that. The hurt and resentment we hold on to does us no good, and doesn’t even hurt the other person. We only hurt ourselves. We so often ask God to take it away. He wants us to let it go.
Do what needs to be done.
Are there things we need to make restitution for? Money that needs to be paid back? Broken promises that need to be honored? Wills that need to be written? Finances put in order? Any unmet pledges? Will our death make things complicated for our loved ones, added to the grief of our deaths?
RIP, David. Praying for your family Dawn.