When We Say Goodbye

Death is such an ugly thing. In the last month Daniel and I have been to two funerals—one of them was his grandma’s. The night we got home from our mission trip we received a message that his grandmother was not doing well. That was a Friday. By Sunday she had passed away with her children by her side.

As the pastor recounted her long, 86 year life that spanned two long marriages (she outlived 2 husbands), five children, fourteen grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren, I thought about what my own life will look like. What will be said of me when my body lies cold in a casket? Funerals have a way of making you think about these things, or at least making me think about these things.

We are surrounded by a culture that is afraid of death at every stage of life. And if we aren’t afraid of it we might just be ignorant of it. I didn’t go to a funeral until I was 21, and even then I didn’t know the person. The first funeral of a person I knew was my grandma’s when I was 23. I’m not saying we should go looking for death. Death is a horrible and sad reminder that things are not right. But it is also a reminder that it is coming to us. This is not all there is. One day we too will be eulogized, memorialized, and wept over.

Lord willing, I will have (living) children someday. Will they say they saw Jesus in my life? Will they say their parent’s marriage made the Gospel look attractive? Will they see service and life-giving? Or will they see selfishness and self-seeking? Will my husband say I freed him for ministry, loved him unconditionally, and respected his leadership? Not without Jesus they won’t.
Christ-saturated funerals, like the one we just went to, remind me that not only am I leaving a legacy of some sort, but also that I have the means to leave a godly one. Everyone leaves something behind. We either are leaving a legacy of life or a legacy of death. Our lives will either breathe life into those we come in contact with, or they will slowly erode any life in the people around us. Jesus is the true life giver in this life and the one to come. By clinging to him in this life we get the life to come and leave his glory behind when we go.

While it has been heartbreaking to see so much death in the past year, it has been a sobering reminder that it’s coming to both Daniel and me someday. Until then, we are trusting in the One who will keep us to the end and will one day conquer the grave.