It’s happened to me more than once in my pastor days. I’ve been encouraging the family during the funeral visitation and trying to build a positive spirit in the room. As the service is about to begin, a well-meaning funeral director comes to the front, asks everyone to be seated, and says that there will be one final procession in front of the casket, “so that you can say your goodbyes” and “bid your farewells one last time.” Arrgh! Everybody starts crying again.
Those words only amp up the fear of death in people’s minds. So does the word bereaved. It hammers home the sad idea that you’ve lost something, that something valuable has been taken away from you. You know, when you decide on a retirement financial plan and write that first check to fund your investments, you don’t think of yourself as “bereaved” of a significant amount of money. You have every intention of seeing that money again. With interest!
We haven’t lost our loved ones in Christ. If you lose something, you don’t know where it is. We know exactly where our loved ones are—safe in Jesus’ arms. We have only “invested” them and expect to get them back with interest. “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Don’t pass by the casket saying your last goodbyes. Smile and say, “See you soon.”