Tuesday, September 08, 2009
My friend Barry died tragically last week - aged 37. He set off for a morning’s exercise with his surfski, and was blown out to sea. I am going to Port Elizabeth today – for his funeral tomorrow morning.
I have discovered different reasons for being there:
I am going in support of those who mourn. While the presence of other people does not lessen the pain of sudden loss, no one should mourn alone. I too am mourning. So I am driving with three friends who loved Barry, and I need their company.
I am going because Barry’s death has reminded me of the fragility of life. I cope well enough with people dying who are older than me. But it is hard when people die who are younger than me. It reminds me of my own mortality. And of all the things I still want to do in life…. And of how often I defer them because I think the time is not yet right. Moments such as these remind me of the importance of living in the present.
I am going because I need ministry. I am normally the one who offers care when other people die. I visit the bereaved; I preside over funerals; I visit people in the lonely months when everyone else has got on with life. This seldom allows me to grieve, because I have to hold the show together for other people’s tears. But somehow the years have caught up with me – and I need space to grieve: I am in pain not just for Barry, but for the many other people I have loved and lost.