Well….what a week! You may recall me mentioning that one of the young lads in our community died a few weeks back. Well, after long delays with the post mortem and more torturous waiting for the family, we finally got to lay him at rest.
I’ve buried my granddad, my young aunt, several people, but it was so difficult to lay Dale to rest. It all seemed so unnatural. I’d been with him a couple of days before he died and he was fine, fit and well. He was 11…he was at the wrong end of the spectrum to be dying. Its then that we realise that death is indeed an enemy and never a friend. We also realise, however, that even death is something God transforms. Death will never have the victory.
In lots of ways, there wasn’t a huge amount I could say that would help this family, but I felt it was important to share a message of Christian hope. I can’t make them believe it, but I can at least offer it. I did the best I could to balance that difficult ‘time to grieve’ and ‘time to give thanks.’ I also had to affirm that it was OK to ask ‘why?’ I confess to asking it myself…sometimes we don’t know, and may never know. But I offered the question, ‘what next?’ What do we do to honour the young life and his memory?
It was profoundly sad, especially to see lots of his classmates there in the congregation,especially to see so many adults that this young lad had impacted. This is what makes for a difficult funeral! I feel even now an ache in my heart. I recognise that I need to mourn too.
But, in a sense I was satisfied that what happened during the funeral was the very best I could offer. I just so wanted to give all that I could. It was just one of those situations where you felt you were holding up everyone: the family, his friends, the school teachers, the community, even the undertaker was struggling, bless her! Hugs all round.
Tonight at our Saturday night youth club, some young girls who attended the funeral came up and said that they had been there. I was asking them if there was anything in the service that helped them with how sad they were feeling. Well, they liked the funny stories about Dale, they were sad when Dale’s sister read a poem and it helped them know how they felt, and they felt better when they saw me crying because then they knew it was ok to cry…as if I could help it anyway.
Right now, my prayer is that Jesus words about ‘little children’ coming to him applied in this situation. Dale was a beautiful, ‘innocent’ young lad and I’ll miss him.