Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best Funeral Ever.

Does that sound strange, disrespectful, irreverent? It's not meant to be. Ask anyone in attendance and I'd be willing to bet that most would agree.

Have you ever laughed out loud at a funeral? Ever applauded wildly? Me neither, until today. But then I have never been to a funeral that was planned right down to the last detail by my friend Pat, who is probably one of the coolest people I've ever known.

Briefly, I will tell you that Pat was 71 years young. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true in her case. She loved God and she loved people in big, generous, outrageous ways. I suppose one of the advantages, if you could call it that, of knowing you're going to die is that you get to say what's important; what matters. When I visited Pat, we didn't talk about the weather, we talked about how much we meant to each other. She didn't spend time mourning a life that she should have lived. She gave specific instructions as to how she wanted her funeral to proceed.

My job was simple. She had asked her kids to each reach a chapter from the Book of Psalms. If they started to falter and couldn't go on, I was to go up there and finish the reading. It turns out that wasn't necessary, but I was ready and able if needed.

The place was packed full of people, all of whom loved her. Can I just say that you couldn't help but love this woman unless your heart is made of stone? Darren Walter (the pastor of Pat's church - formerly my church) opened the service with a prayer and the usual "survived by" stuff. He's a great guy and he did a great job. He shared with us that Pat told him, "Well, you're no Pastor So-and-So , but you're a good kid." You never needed to ask Pat what she really thought. That was pretty much whatever came out of her mouth.

Another specific request she made was that the song "Days of Elijah" was to be sung. And it was to be sung by Jeff Hogan. Fortunately, we (C3) have a very good relationship with our old church, so that was not a problem. Jeff and Tamara rocked that song. Then a wonderful retired preacher by the name of Brother Wayne sang "Amazing Grace" in his big, booming beautiful southern gospel voice.

Her children and one of her grandchildren read the scriptures she had requested. Her daughter Cari spoke lovingly about some of the things that made Pat such a wonderful, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend.

Now for the best part. Cue the video. Pat made a video before she died from her bed. It was classic Pat. She told us how much she loved us, and not to be sad for her. She shared the story of the 3 dreams she had of heaven. Said it was God's way of putting her at peace. She had absolutely no doubt in her mind that there is a heaven and she would soon be there.

That was the theme for her funeral. That was her dying wish. She wanted everyone within earshot to know that heaven is a real place, and that she fully expected to see all of us there.

I look forward to that day.

At the close of the service, on an unseasonably beautiful day in Katy, Texas, we released 71 white balloons towards heaven.

Spot on perfect funeral.


jasonS said...

That is absolutely beautiful. It sounds like a party- wish more funerals could be spent enjoying life instead of facing regrets. Pat sounds like an incredible woman.

Sorry for your loss, but sounds like there is a lot of joy in the middle of all of it.

Candy said...

Pat sounds a lot like my mom. She has her funeral paid for, the scriptures chosen, all the songs selected, the menu for the caterer is all written out, and come hell or high water, her church lady friends are NOT to work in the kitchen - they are to enjoy the party. This is the way I want to remember her - exactly the way she lived. She's 84, and when she gets back from mushroom hunting in the woods, I'll have to ask her if she'd like a video. She would probably prefer a highlight reel of her beloved IA Hawkeyes - fight song included.

Thanks for sharing Pat with us - a life well-lived!

Sherri Murphy said...

Katdish- when I die, your job is to make sure I'm wearing the stilettos!

I love this kind of funeral-especially helpful to the family and close friends. So encouraging for all those in attendance because you leave with the real sense about life and death. Life is temporary, death is just the beginning!

My friend's daughter Katie died at 16 and she was also a beautiful Christian, as was her family. Her funeral was held in the high school gymnasium and was packed with mourners. But not for long....
the mourning turned to laughter and praise when her church's praise team shared some awesome memories of her and then started up with a full blown praise service, opening with Katie's favorite song, 'I'm trading my sorrows." When they came to the verse, "I'm trading my sickness, I'm trading my pain, I'm laying them down for the Joy of the Lord",... to hear that song while looking at her in that casket, it made the words SO VERY REAL! She had gone on to bigger and better things. It made us kind of jealous, really.
I'm glad you were able to experience such a beautiful service and friendship .

nitewrit said...


What a funeral of a Christian should be, a celebration and an affirmation. Wonderful.

Larry E.

Carol @SheLives said...

Sounds like a great lady. I expect you to introduce us one day.

Not sure I could plan my own funeral. The white balloons sounds cool, though.

Billy Coffey said...

I can only wish my own funeral goes as well.

Best funeral ever.

Best post ever, too.

Tina said...

how wonderful!

I loved that she was able to share about the dreams God gave her. He is so good, he knows that even in our faith the unknown of dying can cause unease.

Heaven is going to be GRAND and we will once again be with our loved ones, sounds like Pat will be one to greet you and show you the ropes :)

Helen said...

Pat sounds absolutely amazing. I am sorry for your loss. I am glad that her funeral was a celebration of her life.

Wendy said...

That really does sound like a great funeral! I'm glad that you got to celebrate her life like that. She really does sound like she was a wonderful gal. Oh yeah, there's a party up in Heaven...

Unknown said...

I love this! A celebration of a life well lived, and of the life to come, as well!

Nicole said...

That's awesome. Pat is partying down right now! ;)

Mary Ann said...

Oh wow, this is definitely the way to do it. How beautiful! I took a class on life, death, and illness and we had to write about our desired funeral...kinda weird but not so much when thinking about how important it is for everyone who lost their loved one. I love that Pat did this. how gracious. How wonderful. What an act of love even after death.

bman said...

Awesome post, and it sounds like an awesome funeral. I have actually been to a funeral that I've laughed out loud at, and it feels good.

It's always nice to go to funerals that are so full of joy.

Joanne Sher said...

Oh so WONDERFUL. What a beautiful celebration of life.

(oh, and just FYI, I thought that picture was of eggs being dropped. Was I EVER confused LOL)

Praying for your loss, dear.

Brenda said...

I have attended funerals where everyone laughed. It makes all the difference when you know for sure that the person believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior. I've never seen anyone video tape themselves though. Wow, that must have been a tear-jerker. Sorry for your loss.

Julie said...

What a beautiful home going celebration....

My father's was sweet, simple and said by many to be the most uplifting service they had attended. One of the most important things to him was that people know his family. Several of us got up and talked about Dad, the grandchildren telling their funny stories. To each grandchild he would say, "You're my favorite but don't tell the others." Somehow I made it through the written tribute God had given to me... by the grace of God, I made it through. When the service was over the song that Daddy had wanted played at the end was "I feel good" by James Brown.... It was perfect.

This tribute written here brought back bitter/sweet memories for me today. It has been almost 3 months now.

Thank you! I'd love for you to stop by for a visit at my blog. I love meeting new people.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! And very fitting with some recent thoughts I had. I'm glad you got to be a part of such an awesome day.

katdish said...

Thanks, everyone. It really was the best funeral I've ever been to. There's really nothing sadder than a non-believer's funeral, is there? I've been to too many of those. I want to do all I can to see less of those.

Julie - "I Feel Good"? - how awesome!

JML said...

That's really cool. I'm glad that it turned out well!!!

Shark Bait said...

I went to my friend's funeral yesterday as well, and for the first time ever saw the balloons released to heaven. Only 33 in this case, but still beautiful.

Afterwards I was discussing my own wishes for my funeral whenever it should happen. I think my family thought I was joking about having my ashes shot out of a TShirt cannon, but they promised to look into having the congregation sing "Always look on the bright side of life" by Monty Python as they wheel the coffin out.

(I'm just jealous I didn't think of "I feel good" first.)


Anne Lang Bundy said...

I'm a just crazy enough Christian to like happy funerals. I wish there were more of them. I've told my kids I want one of my own someday.