As we walked through the doors, I immediately felt the chill go up my spine. I took a deep breath to fortify myself and stepped further into the building. I could feel the sorrow hanging in the air. The room seemed to be filled with whispers of grief. Heavy with sadness. Tinged with disbelief and shock.
Glancing sideways at my husband, I can see that he has spotted him. The man we are looking for. The husband who is grieving for his wife. The daddy, who just 29 months ago stood in this same room grieving the loss of his 20 year old son. A man who just lost his wife in a single-car accident and a man who lost his child in a freak work accident. A man who witnessed that accident that took the life of his son.
I see the empty stare on his face and the red eyes filled with tears. And I can feel the lump in my throat expand and the tears welling up in my own eyes. I walk very closely to my husbands side, gaining strength from his touch. "It's too much", I whisper.
We approach him and he bravely tries to smile. We spend some time talking with him. The pain he is experiencing is evident. He is far away in his thoughts. He is simply going through the motions. He is in survival mode. We join hands with him and we pray.
This is the part of my husbands vocation that I immensely dislike. I do not like funeral homes. I do not like funerals. I don't like seeing people so broken and hurting. I don't like death.
As I go into the other room, I see the casket. This always takes my breath away for just a minute. It takes me back to my daddy's funeral. Back to a place where I don't want to go. Back to a memory that is too painful to resurrect.
This casket is holding a 43 year old wife. A mom. A daughter. A sister. I see a card propped open on the end of the casket and I immediately know what it is. But I am drawn to it. I step over and see the signatures of her 2 living sons under the words "Happy Mother's day". That just does me in. I feel the tears and there is no holding them back. I am just standing there thinking... "it's mother's day". She should be with her family today. Enjoying her boys. Not lying in a casket.
"It's just too much", I utter again to no one in particular. I begin searching for my husband. I am ready to go.
The ride home is spent mostly in silence. There is just nothing to say. There are just no words. As we are lost in the quiet of our thoughts, I finally look up and voice a question that has been in my mind many times before.
"How do you do it? How do you do 30 funerals a year and not get affected by it?", I quietly questioned.
My husband looks at me and says, "God. The grace of God"
We enter back into our respective silences. I begin to pray. For my husband. For the grieving spouse. For the stunned children. For the family members. Death is no respector of persons. We don't know the time or place. We don't know the details. But we do know that it is appointed man once to die.
The one thing we can know? Our eternal destiny. We can have the assurance of an eternity with Christ by the salvation we receive through Jesus. He sacrificed His life and bore the burden of our sins, so that we could have forgiveness through accepting Him as our Lord and Savior.
I am so thankful, that when Jesus was on the Cross, He didn't think 'it was too much'. I am thankful that He loved us so much He was willing to die for us, so we wouldn't have to.
Oh, Father, minister to the family as they are mourning the loss of their precious loved one. Grant them peace and comfort. Help them to find rest in your arms. Draw them closer to you, Lord. Thank you for the promise of eternal life.
"For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow." (Jeremiah 31:13)