In a couple of hours I am to meet with a couple I’ve never met before. Their 18 year old son drove his car into the back of a parked flatbed and died at the scene two nights ago. He was a senior to graduate in a month. This family has no church, no preacher, etc. Mercifully, they do have dear friends who attend Memorial and we have been chosen to assist this family, school, and community by conducting the funeral services. So, young leaders, what does one say at this meeting?
First, I want you to know I’ve been blessed years ago by encountering such personal tragedy. Once again God is a “Yes” as I learned something ministers needed to know: how people feel in the center of stunning loss. Therefore, I pass what I regard as important factors along to you which I learned in the center of the pit.
1. The parents will hear of my desperate sympathy.
2. Their world has been destroyed.
3. Realize they can barely hear the simplest of words as their minds and hearts have taken a direct hit and they can barely function, let alone take in information.
4. Because you know they can’t hear, don’t expect response from many things you counsel. Some matters must be discussed, but don’t gage success of the meeting on your “connection” for a part of them is not in the meeting, although their bodies are.
5. I will share with them the day will come they will be okay. Right now they can’t envision such.
It will be important to share with them how life will go for the next few months:
- They will look to see if it’s their son every time they see a car like his just to make sure theirs isn’t a dream.
- Every holiday during the first year will make this death arise to its fullest pain again. The second year will begin to ease.
- They will resent foolish bickering/complaining over nothing they overhear in checkout lanes and at work.
- It will be important for them to not blame anyone/each other for this tragedy.
- Finally, I will share with them the truth that God lost his son and the lights went out in His world for three days. But the third day carries hope.
The above can sound awfully sure about myself. To the contrary, it tears me up and breaks me open. I will fumble and sob and ache (I have in just writing this blog). God will say things to them I have not planned. Words will just come out of me….and you when you hit your hour to deal with such devastation. The main thing I want you to know, which they can’t understand at the moment, is God will work. Watch for God. He will work. He promises….II Cor. 1:18-20.