Please don’t say these things at my funeral

Celebrations of life do a disservice to mourners

sga415sheppard-funeral1The following comes from a July 11 story by Chad Bird, an “active Christian of the Lutheran confession” on his blog site.

There will come a day, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, when the man in the coffin will be me. They say the dead don’t care, but I’m not dead yet, so as long as I’m still alive, I’d like to have some say in what goes on at my funeral….

So, please don’t say…

1. He was a good man. Don’t turn my funeral into a celebration of my moral resumé. For one thing, I don’t have one. I’m guilty of far more immoral acts than moral ones. Secondly, even if I were the male equivalent of Mother Teresa, don’t eulogize me. Talk about the goodness of the Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps us in the true faith. Talk about our good Father who’s made us all His children in baptism. Talk about the good Husband that Christ is to His bride, the church. Don’t say, “He was a good man,” but “our good God loved this sinful man.”

2. Chad…Chad…Chad. I don’t want to be the focus of my own funeral. I was not the center of the liturgy on Sunday mornings, so why should it be any different during my funeral liturgy? If anyone’s name comes up over and over, let it be the name that is above every name—Jesus. He is the one who has conquered death. He is the one in whose arms I will have died. He is the one, the only one, who gives hope to the bereaved. Let me decrease that Christ may increase.

3. God now has another angel. Heaven is not going to de-humanize me. In fact, once I am resurrected on the last day, I will be more human than ever before, for my human soul and human body will finally be in a glorified state that’s free of sin. People don’t become angels in heaven any more than they become gods or trees or puppies. The creature we are now, we shall be forever. God has enough angels already. All He wants is more of His children in the place Jesus has prepared for them.

4. We are not here to mourn Chad’s death, but to celebrate his life. So-called Celebrations of Life (which I have written against in “The Tragic Death of the Funeral”) do a disservice to the mourners for they deny or euphemize death. The gift of life cannot fully be embraced if we disregard the reality of death, along with sin, its ultimate cause. Whatever the apparent reason for my decease may be—a sickness, accident, or old age—the real reason is because I was conceived and born in sin, and I built atop that sinful nature a mountain’s worth of actual sins. The only person’s life to celebrate at a funeral is the Savior conceived of the virgin Mary, who became our sin on the cursed tree that we might become His righteousness in the blessed font, who buried sin and death in the empty tomb He left behind on Easter morning.

5. Chad would not want us to weep. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. Those tears betoken a God who’s fully human, who experienced the sadness and grief we all do at the death of those we love. To cry is not to deny that our friend or family member is with the Lord, but to acknowledge that in this vale of tears there is still death, still loss, still suffering. I do want those who mourn my death to weep, not for my sake, but for their own, for it is an integral part of the healing process. But while they weep, let them remember that in the new heavens and new earth, God “shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain,” (Revelation 21:4).

6. What’s in that coffin is just the shell of Chad. What’s in that coffin is the body that was fearfully and wonderfully made when our Father wove me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14). What’s in that coffin is the body that Jesus baptized into His own body to make me part of Him. What’s in that coffin is the body that ate the saving body of Jesus, and drank His forgiving blood in the Supper, that I might consume the medicine of immortality. And what’s in that coffin is the body that, when the last trumpet shall sound, will burst from my grave as a body glorified and ready to be reunited with my soul. My body is God’s creation, an essential part of my identity as a human being. It is not a shell. It is God’s gift to me. And one day I’ll get it back, alive, restored, perfected to be like the resurrected body of Jesus….

To read the original posting, click here.






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  1. This article is interesting. I am printing it out and keeping it in my file at home. I agree with it 100%.

    We should all make written plans according to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”: #2276 -2279, 2296, 2299-2301.

    For the OF Mass a good Mass preparation book is: “Through Death to Life” – which provides the various choices.

  2. We never hear homilies on – SIN, DEATH , JUDGMENT, HEAVEN, HELL.
    Read your Catholic Bible, and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”. It’s all there.

  3. Father Karl says:

    When we look at the ICEL translations for liturgical prayers, there was NO mention of the word SOUL. The newer translation is better, but white vestments are still the norm, and the death of the deceased person is identified with Easter Sunday. The alleluia verse is used, and all references to Purgatory and the suffering for atonement has been dropped.. Obnoxious eulogies have sprung up, which are supposed to be illegal during Mass, and pictures and memorabilia are scattered around the sanctuary. Up until the end of the 1960’s before the funeral Mass, the Rosary was prayed the previous day at a mortuary, and the body of the deceased was then brought to the church for the Requiem Mass. The mourners wore black, and the atmosphere was somber. Today, it is like a picnic in the park, with people dressed in brightly colored clothes which are barely appropriate even for a beach or hunting party. What I have noticed recently is that, today, when many Catholics die, there is NO Mass, just some words spoken by a liberal ‘nun’ (where are the permanent deacons?). Masses are NOT said for the deceased, but there are tons and tons of flowers and balloons all over the place. Since the false belief that when we die, we all go to Heaven, there is now no need to pray for the Poor Souls, and since Purgatory no longer exists for most Catholics, why not have a party? Inculturation has to be blamed for this.

    • In lieu of flowers, I am asking for Masses to be said for my Soul.

      • SandraD says:

        oh yes Mike, oh yes…..if only someone would pray for our departed souls…..I do not want a celebration of my life…..I want prayers…lots of prayers to help wipe out any remaining stain of sin, so I can be fully reunited with Our Lord in Heaven. Every day I try to remember and pray for the departed souls of my family and friends…..they might languish without our prayers.

        Thank you Father Karl for your instruction once again…..

  4. I’m planning for a Requiem Mass to ensure that there will be none of that nonsense. And like Anne, I’m going to keep this item in the appropriate planning folder. How much I agree with this Lutheran. Such good sense and good taste.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      Make sure you include a request the the “Dies Irae” be said if it is not a Tridentine Requiem Mass!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  5. Catherine says:

    This music is SUBLIME!

    Please search…..In Paradisum – Catholic Requiem Mass Hymns – YouTube

  6. Even though he is a heretical Lutheran he is correct about no eulogies at a funeral. The Mass of All Times states this, you can have all the compliments you want after the funeral, in a non-church setting. As for me I too will have a Traditional Requiem Mass when my time comes.

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