People grope for things to say at a wake. Our brains strain to make sense of death, the senseless invader. I think that’s one reason why people still buy cards to send or leave—others came up with some beautiful words to say, and you can rent their expressions when your own mind is a muddle. When people finally make it up to the front where the close family is standing, they struggle to be stoic and tough: “Well, I guess it was her time.” “We all gotta go sometime.” “God must have decided he lived long enough.” “She doesn’t have to suffer anymore.” May I offer the opinion that there’s not a lot of support and comfort in any of those phrases?
If we really mean what we say about celebrating a Christian’s life, no matter how long or short it may have been, then let’s talk about the person’s significance. The writer to the Hebrews spent an entire chapter reviewing a long list of the great heroes of faith and concluded, “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). The companionship, example, guidance, encouragement, love, mutual service, emotional bonding, and personal growth that we received from the departed must have meant a lot to get you away from your TV and easy chair that night and bring you to the church or funeral home.
How about these words instead: “What a gift he was in my life.” “I so appreciate her!”