writing down names.

It may be time.

Some of us have hidden behind the restrictions on large gatherings for funerals. The delay of services has allowed us to delay naming the person and owning the loss. Or maybe it was just me, just a little.

My mom died last December. We didn’t have a graveside service until June. There were lots of reasons, appropriate scheduling and restriction constraints. But as I think about it now, I know that a little of it was an emotional procrastination. And as I think about it now, that may have added to the grief, not diminished it.


When I lead a service (funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life), I always start the same way.

We don’t want to be here. Just so that’s clear.

We’re here because when God made us, he built us to respect lives, and to acknowledge that when an earthly life ends, something significant changes.

There is something that is right about gathering, briefly, one last time,

   to affirm that life,

   to accept that death,

   to hear hope for the future, and

   to reflect on how we will live the rest of our lives.


As part of Advent this year, as part of the first week, as part of thinking about hope, I knew that we needed to write down the names of the people that we ourselves have lost.

Our handwriting (or typing). Our loved ones.

Whether or not we were part of a larger service, whether or not there will be any gathering, we can do that.

It’s part of affirming that life and accepting that death. It’s helping us move a service from interminably future to present and then past.

And maybe, if we’re brave, we can ask someone to join us and we can join them. Even if we use Zoom. We may be physically distant. But we needn’t be socially or emotionally or spiritually distant. As we say names and light a candle and remember.


The health system I’m part of moved our memorial service online.

This is some background for today’s reflection in Giving a Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent 2020. Learn more at 2020Advent.com.