Contributed by Thomas Hyatt
I’ve discovered one of the things that compel me to continue writing this blog is it provides a platform to share thoughts and ideas that may have a positive impact on someone who is experiencing sickness or a death in their family. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time, dear reader, to allow me to share the following. King Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs that “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21 NIV). And so it is. The ability to express an idea can be transforming. It has the potential to help someone see something in a way that they were unable to just moments before. For this reason I thoroughly enjoy sharing these poignant words with you from my favorite author, Frederick Buechner. He writes:
“In Aramaic talitha cumi means “Little girl, get up.” It’s the language Jesus and his friends probably used when they spoke to each other, so these may well be his actual words, among the very few that have come down to us verbatim. He spoke them at a child’s funeral, the twelve-year-old daughter of a man named Jairus (Mark 5:35-43).”
“The occasion took place at the man’s house. There was plenty of the kind of sorrow you expect when anybody that young dies. And that’s one of the great uses of funerals surely, to be cited when people protest that they’re barbaric holdovers from the past, that you should celebrate the life rather than mourn the death, and so on. Celebrate the life by all means, but face up to the death of that life. Weep all the tears you have in you to weep, because whatever may happen next, if anything does, this has happened. Something precious and irreplaceable has come to an end and something in you has come to an end with it. Funerals put a period after the sentence’s last word. They close a door. They help you get on with your life.”
“The child was dead, but Jesus, when he got there, said she was only asleep. He said the same thing when his friend Lazarus died. Death is not any more permanent than sleep is permanent is what he meant apparently. That isn’t to say he took death lightly. When he heard about Lazarus, he wept, and it’s hard to imagine him doing any differently here. But if death is the closing of one door, he seems to say, it is the opening of another one. Talitha cumi. He took the little girl’s hand, and he told her to get up, and she did. The mother and father were there, Mark says. The neighbors, the friends. It is a scene to conjure up.”
“Old woman, get up. Young man. The one you don’t know how you’ll ever manage to live without. The one you don’t know how you ever managed to live with. Little girl. “Get up,” he says.”
“The other use of funerals is to remind us of those two words. When the last hymn has been sung, the benediction given, and the immediate family escorted out a side door, they may be the best we have to make it possible to get up ourselves.”
I’ll take up the value of a funeral along with the issue of funeral director’s whining about the rising cremation rate in a future blog. For now I encourage you to reread the words of Buechner and consider what it would have been like to come face to face with this man, our Lord and Savior. Until next time.
Thomas Hyatt, a 16 year veteran of the funeral and cremation business, is a lifelong Indiana resident and frequent contributor to this blog. He works as a consultant to funeral homes helping them be more effective with the families they serve. He has been involved with Northern Indiana Funeral Care of Fort Wayne since its inception and continues to help them spread their message to more families. Northern Indiana Funeral Care promotes a return to the church-based funeral and is on the leading edge of an industry trend toward more simple and inexpensive services. If you’d like to know more about them please click here.