Sunday, July 20, 2008

Helping Family Say Good Bye

Friday night, I was finalizing a funeral service for a close family relative. I had never done a service for a family member, so I was worried about how that would feel to me, and I was also concerned about leading a service for the Roman Catholic side of the family who were used to funeral masses conducted by priests and might not find my offerings suitably comforting.

I sent out an email to some of my friends who just happen to be ministers and therapists, asking for counsel and encouragement. Here are some of their wise words. "Remember, it's not about YOU. Ministry is never about us. It's about your relative, and those who are closest to her, who are also people closest to you. Turn it over to God. This is your call, you didn't ask to do this. Trust that the spirit will be with you. Let grace happen." And I prayed Saturday morning when I woke for all of that.

And it was all true. Especially when a cousin I didn't know walked in and headed to greet the family. It was Sister Eileen, a Roman Catholic nun who has served for fifty years this coming Sunday, who had grown up with many of the Italian relatives present. Dressed in a modified habit, this kind Sister without hesitation agreed to my spontaneous suggestion that at the appropriate time she come forward to the mike and lead the congregation in the Lord's Prayer. As quickly as she accepted, my concerns about not being able to minister to everyone disappeared. It was as one of my friends predicted, a privilege and a gift to offer the service for our family from so many differing backgrounds.

Grace does happen -- especially when we get out of the way.

Blessings on your week.


Lilylou said...

What a wonderful moment in your life, Debra! Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Blessings to you, too, Debra. An important milestone has passed.
Thank you for your frankness. Learning of the reality of your ministry, at that moment, is a gift.