Funeral message for Derek Gill

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How do we process it

The loss of Derek was sudden.
Just two weeks ago, you could have been sitting down with Derek and thinking about what the future holds.
I suspect, sitting in a church listening to the local Baptist pastor would not have been part of that discussion.
But that’s what has happened - and in the midst of our grief we have to try and make sense of it.
But how do you process such a sudden loss?
I wish I has a simple answer. I wish there were a few words I could say and suddenly it would all make sense - but that’s not how life works.
Sure we could try to rationalise it, knowing that everyone has to die some day.
But when it is someone you love… someone you have shared much of your life with, it is not at all going to bring any comfort.
No, we can’t process something like this with just some words, rather it takes a journey.
And it’s a journey that in some ways will never end - but it will certainly change over time.
And so the question needs to be changed from: how am I going to process this now? to: how do I navigate this journey?
Now that journey is going to be unique for each of you.
But can I suggest to you that there is some ancient wisdom that can help us understand this journey.

Psalm 23

In fact, what I read earlier, from Psalm 23, can indeed be seen that way. These are some words which were written some 3000 odd years ago and have provided comfort and reassurance to countless people for thousands of years.

The Guide

Now, if I just think more generally about journeys for a moment, one thing I’ve learnt from experience is that journeys always go more smoothly with a guide.
This is actually a tricky one for me as I love to do things my own way. I’ll try to put the flatpack together without the guide. Or go to a new address without the GPS. You’d think I’d learn. But moving from one place to the next is always better with a guide.
This ancient document gives us a guide.
It is a guide that is ultimately wise. A guide above all things and who knows us intimately.
In the Psalm he is referred to as the Lord. We often call him God.
Maybe you believe he exists. Maybe you don’t. We can struggle because he doesn’t fit our modern understanding of the natural world.
But there is a God, and when we call on him, he will help us through whatever part of the journey we are on.
At times, he will metaphorically make you lie down in green pastures or lead you beside quiet waters. You know, sometimes in the midst of grief we need that time out. We need that peace.
He guides us in the decisions we make - and some of the decisions you need to make, particularly early in the journey of grief can be very difficult.


But no matter what happens, even when we’re in the darkest part of the journey, there is something truly amazing about having the Lord as a guide. You see, God won’t necessarily stop the struggles from occuring - that’s part of the journey - but what he does do is provide a comfort like no other.
This is the testimony of countless people before us, and it is my testimony as well.


Now this is all good. There is a God who can guide us and provide us with comfort.
But the author of this ancient document ends the journey in a very profound place.
It ends with the words: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
There is always a lingering question of what happens after death. Christians have an answer. With the Lord as your guide, you can dwell with the Lord for ever.
There is an opportunity that not only will the Lord guide you through your grief, but that he will also provide greater meaning to your life, and a place with the Lord in the afterlife.


Dealing with death is never easy. But as we embark on this long and painful journey we will find moments of comfort. There will be those memories that bring a smile to your face. But there will also be other moments of peace that are hard to understand.
But ultimately we can cling to a hope that there is something beyond this world that can guide, provide comfort and protect us.
Let me pray...
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