Comfort the dying; Abandon the dead.

6 07 2008

Today I found myself in a stranger’s house, praying for a couple who’s only child had recently died (and I mean recent…less than 3 days ago).

One of our youth members was best friends with the departed, and she was almost inconsolable when she walked in on our weekly youth fellowship. Her boyfriend wanted her to talk to me about it, but what do you tell someone who’s best friend just died? No amount of pious platitudes will do any good, so I told her maybe we should go see the family. She agreed.

I soon found myself sitting on a very nice couch in a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood nearby, listening to a grieving mother talk about the dreams she had for her daughter – dreams of wedding gowns and grandchildren, dreams of prosperity and comfort – and how none of that mattered now…only to listen to her say the same things all over again maybe more than half a dozen times. I found myself performing an internal fumnambulist act, teetering on the brink of irritation while trying to remain calm and sympathetic.

Calm and sympathetic won out in the end…but how do you comfort those left behind by someone who doesn’t know Christ? Can you say the departed is now at peace? Free from pain? As a Christian, there just isn’t any way to answer that in a positive manner without lying through one’s teeth. I’m hoping that our little visitation and prayer for the living (not the dead – they’re beyond help now) will set the stage for change, but…

Oddly enough, the night before, I was working on an arrangement of the funeral march from Mahler’s 1st Symphony. Now I can’t get the double bass solo out of my head.

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