John & I attended the funeral last Monday of John's brother-in-law. He was 84, a classic "Northern" man who, apart from his National Service, rarely left his native Norton, near Middlesborough. This was our third funeral this year, and it's only February - of course this is one of the penalties of old age, watching family and friends, long loved, fall ill or just wear out and die.
At the funeral last week we were with a family member who was so sad and so depressed - yes, about Peter, the deceased, but also because looking back on her own life, she saw nothing but failure - a failed marriage, an only child who had gone and still is "off the rails". "My life is a list of failures" she said - "I even failed my driving test". This is from a woman who has many, many friends, and loving family members - but for her there is none of the contentment which should be the gift of old age, there is just sadness and despair.
I know how I (like most people over 50) lie awake in those horrible hours between 3 and 6 am, when the world and life seems very dark, and I go over sins done long ago and scald at some of the memories - how could I have said that, done that. I know that God knows my sorrow - confessions and forgiveness has been long since dispensed - but forgiving myself is much harder.
The sadness of our lovely relative last week brought home to me that we really need to trust in God's mercy and let go of the past, in the "sure and certain hope" of our future with Him, when as in the words said in the funeral service "all tears will be wiped away".
Please, say a prayer for all those suffering despair and loneliness, including our very dear relative, asking God to pour His love on them, and bring them to acceptance, contentment and consolation.