Death vocabulary

Nate and I just met with one of the owners of Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home here in Clarksville in prep for our upcoming Good Friday Funeral service on April 22. I’ve been to plenty of funeral homes before, as a pastor and also as a grieving family member or friend. It’s always a bit surreal. Funeral homes and grave sites have the unique ability to confront you with the reality of death in many ways.

One thing that stood out to Nate and I as we walked around and talked details with the owner was the “death vocabulary” that everyone was using. Here are a few words we used and/or heard multiple times in just 10 minutes of being inside…

death

casket

coffin

hearse

funeral

cremated

mourning

grave

pallbearers

deceased

died

dead

passed away

…and more.

The verse that immediately came to my mind as we walked out was Ecclesiastes 7:2…

“Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart.” – New Living Translation

The stats are staggering: 1 out of every 1 person dies (except Elijah & Enoch, of course). That’s why Solomon says it’s so healthy to spend some time at funerals – they confront you with the reality of death.

I’ve performed quite a few funerals over the past few years: a 12-year old boy from my youth group, a 16-year old boy that I counseled, an 89-year old woman, a premature baby that was buried in a casket the size of a shoebox, and more… As a pastor, doing a funeral has a way of putting fire in my preaching like nothing is else. After all, the people sitting in a chair on Sunday may be lying in a casket on Monday. We’re not guaranteed another breath!

It would be healthy for us to remember how fragile life is more often.

Talking about death is not only healthy to think about, but it’s also a great way to share your faith with someone. If you want an interesting conversation, ask someone where they’ll spend eternity when they die. Most people don’t think that far ahead and they’ll stumble through a random assortment of unfounded beliefs that don’t even make sense to them as they’re coming out.

Have you thought about it? One day, you will die. Do you know where you’re going?

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