Cemetery tales, #1: Don’t cry?

My wife and I take a daily walk with our dog at a nearby cemetery where my wife’s mother, father, and step-father are buried. We also have two side-by-side cemetery plots located there that are reserved for us (more on that detail in post #2). Walking at the cemetery every day got me thinking about death and sparked a couple of posts, the first one below:


Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

We’re all familiar with John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible. But why did Jesus weep in that particular circumstance, already knowing He was going to raise His friend, Lazarus, from the dead? Many have speculated, but perhaps part of the reason was because Jesus’s heart was weighted-down in perfect empathy for Lazarus’s grieving sisters, Mary and Martha. I was recently reminded of a time when I was less-than-empathetic as an immature new believer. First, a little background.

My wife’s mother (daughter and mother in above photo, circa 1970) died way back in January 1984 at the age of 68. Dorothy was a longtime cigarette smoker and had developed a progressive case of emphysema. The last couple of years of her life, it became increasingly difficult, make that torturous, for her just to take a single, satisfying breath.

Dorothy was raised as a Roman Catholic and even spent a few of her childhood years as a boarder at the former Academy of the Sacred Heart, located at 8 Prince Street in Rochester, a consequence of the breakup of her parents’ marriage. Dorothy grew up and got married herself, but divorced her husband in the early-1950s, which was quite scandalous at that time. She then married my wife’s father, resulting in the Catholic church excommunicating her (formal letters of excommunication were issued from the diocese in those days). Dorothy subsequently did not attend church, but she raised her daughter (my wife) as a Catholic, including four years of Catholic high school. As Dorothy approached the end of her life, her last husband, a “Protestant” (more on him in the next post), contacted the local Catholic parish and a priest visited a few times and administered “last rites.” However, Dorothy also heard the genuine Gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone.

Dorothy was taken to the hospital in late-December, 1983 in extreme discomfort, but there was nothing the medical staff could do. She was returned home and died a few days later.

Okay, now comes the embarrassing part.

My wife cried heavy tears at her mother’s funeral. I was surprised. We were new (aka immature) believers at that time and the Gospel church we attended encouraged members to have a constant, “Stepford-ish” smile on their faces. I actually admonished my wife not to cry because her mother was in Heaven and no longer suffering. What a dummy I was. I was putting cold, detached theology ahead of my wife’s deep sorrow at the loss of her mother. What I actually needed at that moment was a heavy dose of Jesus’s empathy.

Yes, there is the JOY that is ours, in all circumstances, as a part of being in Christ, and we must not allow grief and sorrow to completely consume us, BUT let’s allow our brothers and sisters (and ourselves) to work through grief and sorrow, by God’s grace, without adding to their burdens by making them feel guilty.

To see Cemetery Tales, #2, click here.

33 thoughts on “Cemetery tales, #1: Don’t cry?

  1. Amen! Been there with that thought process you had! Thankfully the Good Lord has showed me His grief in the death of Lazarus through those 2 words in John 11:35!
    I appreciate your honesty in this post!
    Have another grateful day, Tom!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Beth! Admonishing my wife not to cry at her mother’s funeral is definitely not a cherished memory. I’m grateful the Lord is patient and merciful keeps teaching us.
      Thank you and have a grateful day as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen, well said! Grief is a natural response and tears are a byproduct of grief and anger. Praise God there will be a day and place (where Dorothy is now) where every tear will be wiped away. Love and blessings to you and Corinne! Thanks for sharing this!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Actually, Mandy, it was some comments you shared a few weeks ago about sadness and grieving that got the old brain neurons firing and sparked this post so thank you! Love and blessings to you and Nathan!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed!!! I genuinely love my mom, we are truly a relationship tried by fire. I am thankful for the reminder from your post to not take my mom for granted. I had a ten year stretch from middle school to post high school where all my best friends lost a parent. I stopped getting close to people for a little bit in fear their parent would die. My dad was and still is a don’t cry kind of guy so I get it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Moms are irreplaceable treasures! To my wife’s credit, she didn’t hold a grudge but rather offered an empathetic shoulder to cry on when my parents passed.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So, I have a propensity for crying the evening before I take my mom to the airport and my mom just said, “don’t cry!” In a few hours Nathan will say the same thing and I will think of you and smile! I know this has nothing to do with your post at this point!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ministry had some urgent matters today; just getting back to you late! Wow keep me posted about LSH. I was fearing they would drop the project given the lay-offs that just happened with DC recently. Will read this post shortly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From the declining number of copies stocked at the comic shop, I deduced the new LSH hadn’t caught on. The huge roster is too high of a hurdle for most new readers. We’ll see in April.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if also COVID is hurting; I can imagine besides fans who buy them on time when things come out some customers make purchase because people are shopping and gazing at comic book store. This is not an easy time =(

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As a pastor I try to encourage believers to be sensitive when another believer dies. I see sometime when someone dies someone else ask: “Was he or she saved?” And if the answer is “YEs” the other believers go “Oh that’s great, you be alright!” I know heaven is great but there is a place for grieving yet our grief is not like that of the world, with no hope

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Crissy! Yes, we continue to learn and stumble and learn some more in the process of putting on the mind of Christ. Praise God for his patience!
      My MIL was a sweet lady who treated me well (unlike the stereotypical MIL). Yes, praise God, she accepted Christ with a childlike faith and was so eager to go home.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Tom for sharing this. I love the stories you share. Billy and my Mom got along really well too, so I know what a blessing that is. We all learn as we go along don’t we. As we age death is something we think about. Nothing wrong with that, I think it’s natural. I’m so glad your mother-in-law was saved. We will all be united one day. What a promise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! I’m glad Billy got along well with your Mom, too. That’s often not the case with in-law relations. Yup, we learn more and more to put on the mind of Christ. Taking walks in the cemetery every day brings death to mind, but that’s not a terror for the believer. Yes, we are confidant we will be united with Mom again and that’s a comfort. It’s been so long since Dorothy died and I forgot one important part to this story that I’ll be appending to my draft for Cemetery tales #2.
      Have a joyous new year in the Lord!

      Liked by 1 person

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