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I co-officiated my first funeral yesterday

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Posted

This has, without a doubt, been the most difficult week of my life. I've barely slept or eaten since Saturday, flown between Fort Worth and San Antonio twice, driven down to San Antonio once, and I still had to do a final and a paper in the midst of everything that's been happening. Here's the story.

Saturday night, around 1 AM, I got a phone call from a good friend of mine, a guy who I've known since I was about 8. He was calling because my lifelong best friend, who I'd been inseparable from since we were 2, had passed away in his sleep the previous night. I'd left the bedroom to take that call, and I couldn't quite make it back before my legs quit working, so my wife, who was woken up by my commotion, had to come get me out of the hallway. She called my parents, who also hadn't heard, and they bought me a plane ticket for the next morning. I got maybe an hour of sleep. I came down, spent time with friends, my family, and my friend's family, and they treated me like one of their own. I'm not an emotional person usually, but this was like something had been unexpectedly cut out of me, like I'd just lost a brother. I stayed with them all day, and I flew back home on Monday night because I had a final on Tuesday. It was terrible, but I feel like I did well. I drove back down on Wednesday morning (about 4 hours) and my wife flew after she got off work, and we went to the visitation that night.

I was terrified going into that funeral home. I'd never been to an open casket visitation before, and I certainly wasn't prepared to do so for my best friend, but I was surprisingly more troubled by the slideshow of pictures outside than by the body, probably because it didn't really look like him. The pictures reminded me of the 20 years we'd spent together in a way that his body could not.

I decided on Wednesday, before the visitation, to agree to co-officiate the funeral service and to lead the graveside service myself. This got complicated, as I was also a pallbearer, but it seemed like the best thing I could do for his family. I was worried about this going in because my body had been continuously rebelling since Saturday: I had a constant headache, it felt like I was being stabbed in the stomach, and I absolutely could not stop shaking. But when I led the family into the sanctuary, when I walked onto the chancel, when I read the eulogy at the lectern, when I led the family out and carried the casket down to the hearse, and even when I stood by my friend's grave, I knew that this was how I could help everyone. This was the only part of my grieving process I'd been trained for, and it was the part that I knew about already. 

My words helped the family, they helped his friends, and they helped me. I cried the entire time I was writing them, because I process emotions best through words, but when I was in front of everyone, serving as a pastor and a friend, I was comforted by the understanding that this was one of the most important things I had ever done. Maybe the most important. And when I was standing by the grave, with his closest friends and his family, my words flowed without hesitation or waver, and I was able to speak loudly without worry. This was, after all, what I was called to do.

So I co-officiated my first funeral yesterday, and it was for my best friend. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and one of the most important.

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Posted

I'm not even sure what to say, aside from "Sorry for your loss." It's not like I can sit here and tell you I feel for you, because I've never even met the gentleman who was lost. And I've never lost anyone I've called a best friend to death like that. I'm just sitting here reading about a horrible tragedy that happened to someone on the internet that I can't totally wrap my head around. I've never had to co-officiate my best friend's funeral.

I'm glad you came here to vent to us, that much I can say.

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Posted

I appreciate your response. Like I said, I process my emotions best through writing, and this post kind of fulfilled that same need. 

Beyond that, though, this forum is actually very special to me. I know I haven't been around as much since I started college, but I've been a member here for almost a decade. Even in the periods where I wasn't active, I have always checked in from time to time. The user base has changed a lot since I first started coming here, and I've changed too, but I've always come back. It's hard to explain, honestly, but it's true. So I guess that in this time, which is extraordinarily trying for me, there isn't really a better venue for my thoughts. I have little attachment to Reddit, and most social media has too short of an attention span for this, but I have history here. Maybe not as much as a lot of the other posters, but you can see my development chronicled through my post history. Some people have at least a vague understanding of what I'm like.

I've always posted here, it seems, and it just feels right to do so now too. It's somewhat therapeutic, if nothing else.

pheonix561 and Teto like this

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Posted

I'm glad that we can help you with troubles like these, and if there's anything else you need to get off your chest we're always here :o

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Posted (edited)

That's a pretty nice thing to do for your friend and his family. Sorry man

Edited by LLmao ?✊? (see edit history)

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