Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Weeping With Those Who Weep

I spent a good deal of time last week weeping with those who weep, which ended on Saturday with me attending two funerals. I was so spent by then I told my daughter Abbie that the only thing worse than going to multiple funerals, is going to a single funeral for multiple people.

"That's what would have happened to us," she said, and once again I thought about how me and four of my children almost went to be with Jesus last Easter. God was truly merciful.

But this isn't about my own sense of mortality. It's about how every death is important. It means something to God, every single time.

A church lovie died. She'd been rejected by her family largely because she spent so much of her time around black people. She was her family's black sheep in more ways than one. She used to tell her friends that it didn't matter what happened to her after she died. Nobody would care or come out for her. And in so many ways she was right. Her funeral was sparsely attended and no one in her family came. In fact, when they were informed of her death her brother turned her body over to the county. He didn't want to be bothered with burying her. As for her effects, he said, "Just leave the door open and let the Salvation Army take whatever they want." Unimaginable cruelty.

I used to wonder why burying the dead was a corporal act of mercy. This weekend I saw why. As I sat in my favorite pew on Saturday, a few faithful gathered with me, I heard so many wonderful stories about this woman who's family dismissed her. And here, crying and laughing together, was her real family, praying to God for her soul's rest.

Fr. Gary prayed this lovely prayer, and I was deeply moved:

May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May choirs of angels welcome you
and lead you to the bosom of Abraham;
and where Lazarus is poor no longer
may you find eternal rest.

Whoever believes in my, even though that person die, shall live.
I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

In stark contrast, the other funeral I attended was packed to an overflow. Her many accomplishments were hailed and I was honored to be at her "home going". She was a beloved mother to me as a child. Loved me as if I were one of her own. I felt awful that she was so close once I moved back to Inkster, yet I failed to go see her. I thought we'd have more time.

Don't we always believe that lie?

I sat in the room with her daughters, girls I was inseparable with growing up, and honestly, it was like being a child again. All of us were middle aged women, but in so many ways we were in essence who we'd been at seven! And we needed each other. We needed to be together to say goodbye.

Yes, I see why burying the dead is an act of mercy. Mercy is needed for the departed, and those of us who remain. Death conjures our deepest fears, and moves us to our most profound empathy. It is an honor to weep with those who weep. Christ thinks of everything, and of course, we know Jesus Himself wept at the death of His friend.

So much to think about for me. So much to pray for. And my brain is a little fried after all that this past week.

I'm glad, at least for me, the worst is over. May God have mercy and allow me to continue to be a friend to the grieving, whose pain, many times, is far worse after all the people have gone and they're left with memories and the deep chasm of loss.

"Pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death."


wilsonian said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Mair Francis.
And so grateful you found yourself in the seat of mercy...


Coffee Bean said...

God has you where he wants you. The contrast between the lives and funerals of your sisters in the Lord has caused you to use your gift of writing as you work through the emotions involved and in so doing, the impact of the lives of these two women will reach others, even in their death. I know because what you wrote has affected me deeply.

Joni said...

I have had a similar experience over the past few weeks. A friend lost a grandson (suicide). An elderly couple at church lost two sons within a month's time. A woman from my hometown lost a long battle with diabetes that affected her heart. I know of at least two or three other situations, too. Yet in the midst of it all, the hope and glory of Easter.

I love that the Catholic funeral liturgy is the resurrection/Easter liturgy. It so reminds us of the joy that awaits us!

My prayers are with you.

Elysa said...

Praying for all those who are hurting and praying for that family, especially the "cruel" brother. Praying that they will see their need for mercy and grace and forgiveness and then be compelled to accept and receive it.

lisa s. said...

Oh, Claudia. Sigh. So much sadness. So much Jesus. I love you.

nedras said...

Dear Mair, my heart is with you, your loved ones, and the loved ones of those people.

With prayer and understanding,

Niki said...

Just wanted to say I'm praying for you diva friend! I'm so glad you were able to be present with both funerals and weep with those who weep. It sounds like it took a lot out of you. Way to be Jesus' hands and feet for your friends Claudia!

Kathy Rainwater said...

Oh Mair ...

If I could hug you...

ragamuffin diva said...

Okay, I had sooooo many typos in that post, but I fixed them (most of them). Typos are always invisible to me for a long time, and some of them I never catch.

Thanks for the sentiments everybody. Pray for the rest of my friends, and their families who will have to wait patiently for the resurrection.

Love y'all!

Karen Deborah said...

ahhh muffi, I've been wondering what you've been up too and thought maybe you were writing more good books. You've been at funerals of your loved ones. It's so hard. the only sting in death that hasn't been removed yet is the one of waiting. I'm sorry you have had these losses, but already the Lord is using your gift with words to enrich the hearts of others. Blessings and comfort to you and your friends and family.

Christi Bowman said...

WOW...what a heavy week. You had to see and deal with so much...so many emotions. I wish I could hug you. I love and miss you TONS. I will be thinking about you, your family, and your grieving friends. I am saying a prayer for all of you right now!! Much love!!

Dee S. said...

Claudia experienced the same thing last month, but you as always expresses it so much better. Great way to honor these lovies. :)

becca said...

thank you for your words... i know this blog posting not intended for me, but your compassion speaks tremendously. I just lost.. no wait, he is not lost, he is *very* found - my dad suddently died a fortnight ago (he was 51 years young...), so i am in that weird place of sorrow and joy.
most people say that they don't have any words. but words aren't the point, as you have illustrated so beautifully. standing in solidarity, in the sadness and hope, is what is important.

ragamuffin diva said...

Oh, my lovies. I'm so sorry to hear of these losses in your own lives. May Jesus give us the healing oil of His mercy. Kyrie Eleison.Christe Eleison. Kyrie Elieson.

Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Love, have mercy.


Joni said...

Fr. Gary's prayer is made even more meaningful to me tonight. I have learned that a little baby, named Angel, who I have been praying for over several months...was taken home to be with Jesus today.

I am truly weeping with her mommy tonight. God, give us wisdom to be a source of peace and comfort when those around us most need it.

Karen Deborah said...

Heu there ragamuffin are you writing a best seller? have you departed or a foreign land? I tagged you for a book game figured you could do one of your own books!