As one ages, one may attend more funeral liturgies. In the Catholic Tradition, the funeral liturgy is a wonderful way to give God praise in the midst of family, friends and acquaintances. There is also the opportunity, if the family desires, to show how the one who has died shared the gift of faith with others.
Recently I attended a funeral liturgy where this was the case. The gentleman who had died did impress others with his ability to struggle with the challenges of a disease that was progressive and that he had for many years. With his attitude it was evident that his faith motivated him and served as an example to others.
The experience of the funeral helped me to understand the importance of funeral liturgies. Here there is an opportunity for family to experience God’s healing love through the care and concern of those in attendance. The process of healing from the death of a loved one takes time. When people make the effort to reach out to the grieving family with cards of condolence, with words of sympathy, by attendance at visitation or the funeral itself, the healing process is put into motion. God’s love can be felt through human efforts. When we become aware of God’s divine presence within us, we realize that we are connected to one another in joy and in sorrow.
Often people say that they do not know what to say when attending a funeral. They are being taken out of their comfort zone. Many words are not necessary. A few simple expressions of sympathy are enough. Sometimes memories can be shared enabling family members to know that the person was loved and respected. We know that God heals. His Son, Jesus Christ, healed many through his ability to convey love. We too are called to be Christ in the world; to bring the healing presence of God to all situations.
– Helen Ackermann