From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

My Buddy’s Funeral

Michelle and Dave Etling At Busch Stadium

Tomorrow will be calling hours for Dave – 4 to 8 in the Baltz Parlor at St. Paul’s; the funeral service will be Saturday morning at 11:00. Lots of thoughts and glimpses of thoughts have been crossing my mind today.

  • Grief is so peculiar – it hurts and I want it to go away. Yet at the same time there’s something in me that wants to hold tight to that grief, I think as a way of honoring my friend. Something in me keeps saying “this just is not right” and I do not want to quickly make peace with that un-rightness. So I want to be comforted, but at the same time not too quickly, not facilely. Let my pain honor my friend. It’s a burden that I want to bear.
  • It’s interesting to see how people treat grief. “Being strong” is one common response. I think, “bulloney”. Death will completely kick your hiney and you’re going to be strong?? Was Jesus strong when he wept in Gethsemane and sweat blood? When he wept at Lazarus tomb? When he got nailed to the cross and cried out? Jesus, being fully human (unlike us half beast/half humans) was willing to be weak and vulnerable, to feel the pain and embrace it. Those who think they need to “be strong” are simply denying their own humanity (and, by the way, their need of a savior).
  • Somebody said that when a person you love dies, a part of you dies with them. In seeing other people’s griefs, and feeling my own, I think this is true. That’s what’s behind the numbness, disorientation, and inability to integrate back into society. It also means that the “grief process” (whatever that is) is a matter of Jesus calling us, like Lazarus, from our tombs.
  • Death is a bastard. I thought about writing an article with the title “Death The Bastard” but haven’t been thinking clearly enough to pull that off. The pain and sense of injustice just screams. Despite the happy talk and platitudes, the gorilla in the room is that this is WRONG! And that’s the source of the anger part of grief. I don’t think we should anaesthetize that feeling with this unbiblical bushwah about the “circle of life”. No this is not the way it’s meant to be. Ask any kid. Death is, in one sense, our destiny in that every human life comes to it. But it’s a bastard destiny; an illegitimate destiny for those once meant to shine in glory and walk in peace with our Father in the Garden. So I name it for what it is – a bastard enemy, one that thoroughly deserved the crushing blow of Christ’s resurrection.

Requiescat in pace, Dave.


One response

  1. How can we comfort you, Earl, in your deep grief over the loss of such a wonderful friend? I know you know the answer already, but let me share with you what I learned from a time of grief in my life:

    A listening ear, words of comfort, multiple opportunities to express myself to Christian friends were invaluable. Who provided these listening ears, who allowed me to grieve and then brought healing to my heart and soul? Our Lord Jesus Christ, the man of sorrows. He understands our emotional pain, because he experienced all of our emotions himself as the Son of Man. He understands your anger in this process of grief – in fact he designed the process of grief for our good.

    Jesus wept when he saw the heart wrenching grief of Mary and Martha when their brother died. John 11:33-35 When Jesus saw her weeping ….He groaned in spirit and was troubled. “Where have you lain him?” Jesus asked. They said unto Him, “Come and see.” Jesus wept.

    My prayer is that through our Christain fellowship in the Body of Christ that God empowers us through the Holy Spirit to bring Him Glory through our sincere love for one another in all circumstances. To bring His peace and comfort to one another through our relationship with Him that He began when He chose us to be His Children.

    2 Corinthians1:3-4 What a wonderful God we have – He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy,and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement,we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

    In Christian Love,

    May 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

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