I can’t remember when I have felt this heavy-hearted. Seeing your father pass away is a difficult thing. Watching his steady decline right before your eyes. It is gut-wrenching.
He lived 98 years on this earth. He had a full life. I keep reminding myself of this, yet why do these words ring so hollow and fail to satisfy? For me, as of yet, they do not console.
Why do I feel this way? What is it about the human condition? Why have we been built to react in such a manner?
This year, I will have completed 30 years of ordained ministry as a pastor. I did not keep a personal record of how many people I ministered to as they passed from this earth. I can contact the parishes I served to get an exact number, but I can say with some certainty that I have conducted between 200 to 300 funerals.
A number of these involved tragic circumstances. Those families were numb in disbelief of what had happened. People can die too young. I can understand why such survivors would feel this way. These things come as an unexpected jolt. One can’t help but flinch. You naturally react in that manner.
But when this involves a life well-lived? Why such sorrow?
It is time to practice what I preach. I have heard it said that from perceived curses can come blessings. I have experienced such things, lived through them, to say that this is true. However, not on this level, never to this degree.
Things will sort themselves out, of this, I do believe. This curse will become a blessing when at an opportune time, empathy can be shown to another who endures the same. When the wound is yet fresh there will be opportunities for such.
Not necessarily by choice words given, but simple caring presence.
Not understanding every detail, but relating more than before.
God has created us to care. It is the wounded healers that deliver this with greater depth — one blessing that is guaranteed from the curse.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for 30 years.