Archive for April, 2016

Funeral For a Friend
April 16, 2016

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Yesterday was the funeral for my friend Lecie. If you saw my previous blog, she is Amanda’s mom. The service was lovely, the day was beautiful, and it was the chance for goodbye. Here’s why I think open caskets and showings are necessary, whenever possible.

Now, I’m a firm believer in closure. It’s important, I think that a person should be able to close any and all situations. Life doesn’t always do that, but I think it needs to be done when possible. Cremation doesn’t do that if it is done in place of a showing. If the cremation is done without a viewing of the body, it doesn’t give the grievers a chance to bring closure with that person.

If the family is for it and they get to see the body, and they’re ok with cremation, then that’s fine, as the family gets to see the body at rest. Or if one chooses to cremate after the showing, that’s the family’s choice. So, I’m not knocking cremation and people are certainly entitled to do as they please. I just think that the viewing of the body  gives the viewer’s senses  a reality of the passing of that person. A final touching of the hand, kiss on the forehead, a heartfelt goodbye. Even a note tucked away in the casket.

So it was with Lecie yesterday. A closure. A temporary goodbye. Why temporary?

When one is with Christ, a servant of His, then eternal life is the reward. He promises to wipe away all tears and dry all eyes and there will be no more crying. (Rev. 21:4). So as Lecie is in the presence of the mighty Christ, so we will be too, if we’ve placed our lives into His hands.

Christ is the Savior of the world. Without Him there is no hope. Because of Christ, Lecie will be seen again by those who know Christ. How glorious. The pastor yesterday said that a great way to honor Lecie is to come to the saving knowledge of Christ.  How pleased would she be if even one, only one, person came to know Christ personally because of her death? Maybe it’s you?

Maybe you haven’t fully committed to Christ as Lord and Savior. Maybe you’ve put your toe in the water and you’re not sure you want to step in. Any moment could be your last chance. And it won’t be an ending, but a beginning.

Will you come to Christ?  If you do though, Lecie will be waiting for you.

 

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The Art of Dying (An Ode to Lecie)
April 11, 2016

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It’s a sad day today. My daughter-in-law Amanda’s mother died today, Lecie Cargould. She is four years younger than me. There were some complications, but physically, she was in better shape than me. She was a wonderful lady that I truly liked. They’re a great family.

Death is a great equalizer. No matter how rich, poor, cute, ugly, sane, crazy, conservative, or liberal, we all end up in the same box. I think death is one of the hardest things to deal with, because as I tell people during grief counseling, the death of a loved one changes your life without your permission.

I remember my dad telling me that the death of a spouse is harder than the death of a parent because the spouse you have is who you chose. I imagine that may be true. But the death of a close family member can be awful.

I remember being out with Bonnie after we buried my mother, and we were sitting at Perkin’s ordering dinner. I looked around and everybody was living their lives the same as the day before, laughing or joking, sometimes just reading or smoking (you could smoke INSIDE places 30 years ago). I remember looking around and thinking, ‘my life has just been crushed, and these people just go about their way’.  And I was so sad. And now it’s 30 years later.

I have done more funerals than weddings. I’ve done my father, mother-in-law, cousins, friends, and acquaintances. I have done the funerals of strangers, which is very difficult to make personal. Especially if I don’t know if they knew of Christ, and salvation through His blood.

Sadness comes because of us not seeing that person on earth anymore. I had asked Bonnie, ‘when was the last time we saw Lecie?’. Then we realized, it was the very last time we saw her. There will not be another time on this earth.

Ah, but our hope goes beyond this earth. I know I will see her  as will her husband Barry, and her two daughters, Becca and Amanda. That is the hope we have in Christ. The knowledge that this current life ends here, but our eternal life begins at death. Lecie is in good hands, the best hands, the saving hands of God. There will be a time when we’re all gathered together, all of us that know Christ, and we will meet friends and relatives who have preceded us in death. And we will be so happy. It will be so good to see Lecie again, fully well.

And how nice when her one year old grandson, Zeke, will walk up to her and say, “NOW I remember you”.

 

The Sound of Silence
April 8, 2016

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I’ve just recently discovered a song by “Disturbed” (no, not my favorite band as actually I wasn’t familiar with them) shared by my son Luke. It’s a remake of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Now I am told “Disturbed” is a screamer band, and they didn’t scream this one. It is phenomenal. Here’s why I like it, maybe even better than the original.

It’s an angry song. A protest song.And Dan Draiman sings it like an angry protest song.  Not so much of a war that was raging (it was written in 1964), but how their voice was not getting heard. Nobody was listening to them. And by them, I mean us, my generation. We had a president who was young and for the youth, and he was murdered. A war was increasing. Hopelessness for young people set in. A war that drafted us to go there, whether we wanted to or not. We were angry.

Nobody listened? We got drunk or high. And nobody seemed to care. Teen years are confusing enough about what you want to do, but add a war to it, and it multiplied. We were “hippies”.

We were rebels with a cause. Boys hair got longer (Thanks Beatles) and girls dresses got shorter (Thank you very much, Twiggy).

I like young people as I used to be one 40 years ago. I work with kids today and they’re angry. But they don’t seem to know why they’re angry. They’re confused. They don’t know what they want to do, what sex they want to be, what is right or what is wrong. At least we had a war to keep us focused to be angry about.

The twenty/thirty somethings are also angry. Their American Dream is fading. They went to college, did everything right, and are drowning in financial debt. They make the amount of money I made in 1974 in the steel mills, but then I could raise a family on it if I wanted to. Buy a new car? Good luck. A new house? So many of them, married or single, live with mom and dad.

These kids got nothing. Except the one thing that my generation was angry at. See, we thought it was the war, but it was more than that. And this song hits it right on the head.

We didn’t have a voice. And nobody listened if we did speak. And this generation is the same. They realize the government isn’t for them, they make it harder to get big loans for houses or cars, but will let you use credit card debt to bring you to the poorhouse. Of course they’re angry. As George Carlin put it, “It’s a big country club, and we ain’t in it.”

The song says, “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made and the sign flashed out its warning int the words that it was forming. And the sign said, “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls.” Back then, I believed that. I believed we had all the answers, just as the current generation goes with what the rock bands or rappers say as truth.  Truth is something that the generation doesn’t believe in, at least an absolute truth. That’s because of weak churches, weak parents, and weak minds that don’t want to reason. But there is an answer to all of this.

God.

The same God they’ve kicked out of schools, courthouses, and public buildings is the answer. The words of the prophets are written in the Bible. And these people running this country  have raised a generation that doesn’t believe in God, particularly Jesus.

But that’s the answer.