Dear Pope Francis,
I don’t know about you, but when my grandfathers died, being told they were in paradise didn’t do much to alleviate the fact that I missed them terribly here on earth. When my cousin Emma died the weekend before my university graduation, it didn’t make it less of a tragedy.
Yesterday afternoon, I read about the car crash in Argentina, and the loss of your nephew’s wife and children. I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying for you and all your family.
When someone dies, saying ‘I’m sorry’ feels like so little, but often it’s the only thing we can say. All the other words get stuck on the way out.
The other night, Mark Loggie, one of my friends from school said “You don’t have political beliefs, you just have theories on how not to starve. You don’t have religious beliefs, you simply have philosophies concerning death,” in a post on Facebook.
On the one hand I can see where he’s coming from. A significant part of most faith traditions is how they respond to death.
But how we respond to life is more important. In John’s gospel we read about how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. We’re told Jesus loved Lazarus, but it is not his love for Lazarus that causes him to raise him up, it is concern for the living left behind.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.”
Jesus then goes to the tomb and raises Lazarus up. It was the grief of the living which troubled him.
When we have funerals, they’re an opportunity to celebrate the life of the deceased and remember them. But I think their real purpose is to provide closure and consolation to the living. To create that space for the bereaved to express their grief and for friends and family to come together to support the widow, the parents, the siblings, and the children.
I’m so sorry for your loss, and I pray you and all your family find consolation.