Remembering a friend with simple but challenging words




Today we gathered with friends and family to say goodbye to an old friend. It was bittersweet in the way that memorials are; sadness and tears in the immediacy of loss, but also a special and particularly heartwarming gathering, seeing some friends again after long absence, and smiling at personal stories and memories of the life we were celebrating.

The service was beautifully simple. By the standard of so many I’ve attended it was actually brief. But the words that were shared touched me very deeply in that they were to the point. They didn’t require an accompanying sermon. They required no amplification. The few short readings shared from The Book of Common Prayer said all that needed to be said.

The family chose a scripture reading I’ve heard dozens of times before, but today the words gained life  as they described a special, very kind man. The challenges are simple and clear; not so easy perhaps to live.

“Let love by genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:9-18

This reading fits the life our friend will be remembered for. I don’t see a lot of ego in this brief passage–perhaps these calming words are worth contemplating in a world that likes to stir up conflict. Peace.

45 thoughts on “Remembering a friend with simple but challenging words

  1. ” – perhaps these calming words are worth contemplating in a world that likes to stir up conflict. Peace.”

    Yes, Peace, Debra, this is what we want and need. You say that this reading fits the life of your friend. This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you do not mind if I copy the scripture reading and your words that follow.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your friend had a very fitting farewell. That scripture is beautiful and the words of the Apostle Paul are very powerful and we all need to be reminded to live by these principles xx

    1. Thank you so much, Charlie. I’m so glad you find the scripture as powerful as I did. It is certainly not “new” to me in any way, but I somehow heard the words very differently under the circumstances and I think I will be responding to them throughout the coming week. I appreciate your very thoughtful comment.

    1. Thank you, Frank. I have lost two friends in the last two months and it certainly makes me very thoughtful about what matters most to me. Our friend will be missed, but he will definitely be remembered as someone who left behind a very big impact on those who knew him. That’s a wonderful way to be thought of after we’re gone. I’ll be thinking about that this week.

      1. We are at that age when we’ll go through this more often. Never a fun event. On the other hand, it’s a time to reflect about the positive impact they had one us. Peace …. see you on Wednesday at the theater.

    1. Thank you, Cathy. He was a very kind and generous man, and leaves behind many people who will not forget the way he touched lives. I think we all want to leave behind a legacy like that, so there was much to celebrate, even in our sadness!

  3. Such a fitting passage and a reminder of what is really important and how we fit into it all. I am sorry for the loss of your friend, Debra. I think these gatherings at the end of a live do help us heal – through the tears and through the memories, laughter, hugs. Love to you across the miles.

    1. I was so sad when I arrived at the church, but it was so lovely to see the smiles on faces as we walked away some time later. Stories and memories were exchanged and I know our friend would have loved that! Thank you, Penny, for your kind thoughts. ox

  4. So much more peaceful than some of the services I’ve attended. Since the passing of a (much younger) friend last year, I’ve been thinking of putting together what I would want done. My husband and I have talked about it but I’m sure he would fail any quiz on the topic. No one really wants to focus on death but it comes to us all. I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. I’m sure we should consider some kind of “pre-planning” for our own “someday” services, Kate, but it’s funny how hard that seems to be! This particular friend was younger than I by five years, and another friend, also much younger, died very suddenly in April form a “routine” infection that just took hold and she was gone in 24 hours. These two occurrences in such a short period of time have definitely captured my attention. Thank you for sharing and adding your condolences, Kate.

  5. Beautiful words. Thoughts are with you Debra. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest, but certainly worth striving for. Peace to you as well.

    1. Thank you, Kristy. I was so pleased to see our friend’s sons, all grown up now, it had been a few years since we’d seen them, and to realize that they will definitely be carrying their dad’s special qualities into the future. It was a very simple, and beautiful service and I will be reflecting on the words this week and forward. ox

  6. We are of that age when dear friends move on. The last life I celebrated, a friend and I observed that we only spend time together, any more, when someone passes. We toast, tell stories, and go back to our own mercurial lives. We reestablish connection and solidify friendship all over again. And meet at the next memorial, smile a little more ruefully, but no less heartfelt.

    1. I can remember when my parents started losing friends, and now, here I am, and the same thing is happening as we say goodbye to friends with increasing frequency. I can imagine that was a very interesting conversation when you and your friend realized that the memorials and funerals had become your “greeting” place. Very sobering thought, though. I must say that yesterday I was so happy to see many faces I hadn’t seen in a very long time. There’s something special about these gatherings, and I think the one who is being remembered in their passing, would typically be very pleased to see friends and family mingle and enjoy the conversation. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Narble. I appreciate your stopping by.

  7. Debra I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing these words. They are beautiful to me. I love the simplicity of clear and concise words. These spoke easily to me and grasped me quickly and with serenity. I love this passage.

    1. Thank you, Colleen. So many times when scripture is recited it is accompanied by a sermon. This short passage from Romans was recited by the Rector and the words spoke a powerful message all by themselves. It just struck me that if we lived those words and didn’t accomplish one other thing in our lives, we’d leave behind a wonderful legacy. I’m going to be thinking about that a lot this week. Our friend was a kind and very compassionate man, and I think he’d be very pleased to know that I shared the words chosen for his memorial. 🙂

      1. And because the Rector didn’t elaborate or continue on….the message was remembered! I think if someone chose this passage for my service because it make them feel good about me, I would be very honored. And humbled.

        1. You’re so right, Colleen. It would be truly beautiful to have my family choose this passage in Romans to honor me at my passing. That’s encouragement right there to meditate on those words and try to live them. 🙂 Thank you for that!

    1. I like the way you chose your words, Andrew. It really was a “good, goodbye,” and it seemed to be very precious to his family to see us gather together and share warm memories. It was a very sweet time, despite the sadness. That’s indeed a “good” memorial. Thank you, Andrew.

  8. Kathy Tiss

    Hi Deb, sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing these words. What a wonderful reminder. Love, Kathy

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thank you, Kathy. I know you know the passage well. It was a “stand out” to me yesterday, that I heard differently under the circumstances. Our friend was a very kind man and he will certainly be missed, and especially so in his sweet family. ox

  9. Beth G

    Dear Deb & Family,
    Thank you for sharing such an important part of life. Good reminders and comforting words. No I do not hear words of ego, greed, or “me-isms”.
    Sorry for the loss and my prayers for comforting thoughts,

    1. Thank you, Beth. It’s always interesting to me how “suddenly” everything gets very clear when you’re celebrating a life that is over. The scripture really touched me in it’s absolute simplicity–if we lived with those principles straight up in front of us, we could avoid a lot of conflict, chaos and heartbreak. This dear friend was a very kind and generous man who could have been bitter about some losses, but it didn’t appear to me that he lived with that. Thank you for your sweet thoughts. ox

  10. Dear Debra So sorry to hear about your loss may our Lord comfort you during this time. I consider you a forever friend even with the miles apart and our lack of communication. You are precious to me! I need to tell you this! Love Deborah

  11. Having to say goodbye to a friend is so sad, and I’m sorry to know you’re going through this, Debra. To be missed the way this man is tells me so much about how he lived. And that passage is certainly a prescription for living. “Take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.” That is a tall order in our world. And a good thing to be reminded of, so thank you. This brings to mind the ‘Desiderata’… do you know it? Peace.

    1. Thank you so much, Steve. I have lost two friends in the last two months, and that has certainly put me in a very reflective mood. I am glad you mentioned Desiderata! It has been a favorite for years, and was then such a nice surprise to me when it was spoken at our son’s wedding in January. It’s so true that the words from Romans and the Desiderata are so inspirational and worth dwelling on. Thank you for your kind thoughts and words, my friend.

  12. So sorry for your loss Debra. The reading is beautifully stated…bless those who persecute you has got to be the most challenging…I try to adhere to that thinking that certain someone needs the most compassion and blessings since they are surrounded by mostly negativity and hate. Peace, compassion and courage to us all!

  13. That’s a strong reading of what we should all seek to achieve. I am sorry for yuor loss but I’m sure this reading will drive you forwards with positive recollections!

    1. Thank you, Martin. I was so impressed at the services for my friend when the Rector read the passage from Romans. I sat in the pew thinking that if more of us put those words in front of our faces every day and we reached to follow, the whole world would be different. My friend was a “difference maker” and will be missed. Thank you.

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