It used to be I only felt grief over the death of someone close to me, someone I had personal relationship with. But something in me has changed. I have come to recognize that death is sorrowful, no matter how near or far it is from you.

So for you, an old friend, whose heart was always gentle and kind — the gentlest man I have ever met — I remember you today and ache with sorrow at your death. It is your homecoming, and you are finally free of all your sufferings; but you left a wake in your departure. More than you probably knew are grieving today for our loss of your presence on this earth. I am looking forward to having an extended conversation with you in the new heavens and new earth some day. Joni Erickson Tada makes coffee dates with friends in heaven. Can we have one of those sometime in eternity? I want to hear all of how God was faithful to care for you here on this dying earth!

And to you, one of my many “Uncles” from childhood, the face of familiarity in a sea of unknowns, I remember your grin, full of jest. I remember playing human-size monopoly because you like to have fun! I remember being welcomed in your house as I played with your daughter. I always felt safe there, like I was one of your own whenever in your care. And later, years later, I watched you from afar as you poured out your life for the sake of others knowing and loving Christ. You were faithful to the end, and your example leaves a legacy. You have joined the great hall of many witnesses, urging us onward in the race home.

And to death, who has taken these two from our earth, and who knows how many more I don’t know about: you do not have the last word for those who trust in Christ. Your ending is just the beginning. So enjoy your endings for now, but know that this battle is already over, and you are literally on the losing side.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘ Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.