I attended two funerals this past weekend. One was for a 33-year-old single man. The service was on Saturday in Atlanta. The other service was for a local businessman in Statesboro, Georgia, on Sunday. He was 74 and had three children and nine grandchildren.
I attended college with the young man’s parents at the University of Georgia (UGA) in the early 1980s. I could see and feel the anguish of death that each of them felt as they spoke about their son and the bright future that was ahead of him.
I could only think of Abbie at age 21 and the wide-open road that lay ahead of her. As a parent, there are boxes you want your children to check off as they move forward with their own choices in life.
My two close friends are now part of a club they didn’t choose but will always be present as they walk through life. With it comes the long journey of asking countless open-ended questions like Why? What if? Should we have … ?
The businessman, whose funeral was on Sunday, had accomplished many goals in his lifetime. He was a successful entrepreneur, former UGA college football player, recipient of numerous awards within his community and husband to the same young lady he married many years ago. The list reflecting how he lived his life and what he achieved could go on and on.
I saw and felt the same anguish of death as his son-in-law spoke about the legacy the businessman had left in the local community and with his family.
The family is now part of a club they didn’t choose but will always be present as they walk through life. With it comes the long journey of asking countless open-ended questions like Why? What if? Should we have … ?
As we grapple with the question of death, we know it is going to enter our world in some form or other. It may involve one of our children, our spouse, a good friend or someone we may have just met.
How can we position ourselves so that when death does come, it doesn’t overwhelm us, or sink us under the waves of self-pity and darkness?
It’s a difficult question that I want to help answer — even if it’s in a small way — by offering a glimpse of hope to those experiencing anguish from the loss of a child. I’m compiling a book of stories from families who are traveling that road right now. It’s called “A Journey We Share.” To learn more, and to share your family’s story, visit AJourneyWeShare.com.