A Remarkable Faith :: Funeral

This is the third week of my Remarkable Faith series, where we are reflecting on our most memorable moments in our faith walks. I’m saying “our” because I want this series to be an opportunity for you to share part of your own remarkable faith, not just a time for me to tell more stories about my life. So, check out the weekly topics and link up when you have something to say! And if you don’t have a blog but would like to share, please, talk to us in the comments.


I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Three grandparents, two godparents, an aunt, two uncles, two of my husband’s grandparents and my mother-in-law are just the ones most closely related to me. There have been several others. But the funeral that has had the most impact on my faith – by FAR – is my friend Carrie’s.

I met Carrie a few weeks into my freshman year of college. She lived just a few doors down the hall and was in chorus with me (and a couple hundred other students). I didn’t immediately peg her for a potential friend. To be honest, all I saw was her cheerleading outfit and assumed we weren’t each other’s types.

Thankfully, one of my friends (who lived a few doors down the hall the other way) introduced us, and I recognized a kindred spirit right away.

As the weeks went on, Carrie and several other friends who lived on that second floor of our dorm became my home-away-from-home family. We ate together, studied together, didn’t study together. We walked to class together and took road trips together. We shared hopes and dreams and fears. We explored our college town and talked about our hometowns.

On one of my very favorite nights with that group of friends, we all dressed up and went to our dorm’s formal dance. It was a little bit nerdy but we still had a great time. Eventually, we all made it back to the dorm and piled into Carrie’s four-person room to eat junk food and watch a movie. Nothing special, but it’s a night that sticks in my mind even now.

I also remember talking with Carrie about her major and even the possibility of her transferring to another school. I remember planning to room together the next year and debating who should live with who in the two bedrooms of our suite. I remember driving to Columbia for a concert and Carrie mentioning Caedmon’s Call, a new band she’d like to see next. We also saw Point of Grace in concert at her church and worshiped together more than one Sunday morning. I still tear up when we sing You Are Holy at church, because I remember her loving that song.

But what I remember most when I think about Carrie is the night of my roommate’s birthday. We were eating cake and laughing, and Carrie stopped by my room to say hi. I was busy with my roommate and other friends, and I didn’t take much time at all to chat with Carrie. We were both going home for the weekend, so I said I’d see her on Monday.

The next day I received a phone call at home. It was Kelly, one of Carrie’s roommates. She said, “You should sit down.”

I’m not sure what words she used to break the news – or what I said in response. I know I must have screamed or shouted or something, because I do remember my mom running into my room. I don’t suppose the details matter after all. My friend was dead.

Carrie hadn’t been home to see her parents for six weeks and they were anxious to see her. Her dad was worried about some bad weather we’d had, though, and suggested she take an alternative route home. Somewhere along the way home, Carrie swerved into the other lane and hit an oncoming car head-on. Thankfully the other driver was okay, but Carrie didn’t survive the accident.

My first instinct was to jump in my car and drive the two and a half hours to my dorm, to be with my friends. I just needed to be with them. My dad refused. I argued with him until he finally broke down crying, something I had only seen happen one other time – at his dad’s funeral. Reluctantly, I gave up and changed tacks. I asked my parents if my friends could stay at our house when they came down for the funeral. My mom agreed and began cooking right away. She badgered me about helping her until, this time, I broke down crying. Cooking a bunch of food wasn’t going to change this surreal and shocking situation.

My friends drove down to my house. The guys made fun of my mom’s Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom and the girls spent hours with me, trying to understand what had happened. We joined hundreds of other people at the funeral and listened to people who’d known her much longer talk about what an incredible, sweet person Carrie was.

And then they played a recording of her singing. That was brutal.

In my list of things I don’t understand, why my friend had to die when her life was just beginning is near the top. And no matter how long my friends and I talked about it – how did it happen? what made her swerve into the other lane? was she reaching for a CD? what if she hadn’t taken that road? why didn’t I talk to her more the night before? – it didn’t change the fact that we just didn’t understand.

Because I believe, though, it comes down to faith – even when I don’t like it. So, at the end of the day, even though it broke my heart (and the hearts of her parents and her sister and her many other friends) and it makes no sense even now, I just have to believe that God’s way is best.

Ohhhh, that is so hard! And that is why this funeral, more than the others, has influenced my faith so much.

Has a funeral played a part in your story? Was the death of a loved one a memorable moment in your life? Do you have a remarkable faith?

If you write about this on your blog, please link up! (And remember, use the URL for your specific post, and include a link back to Giving Up on Perfect in your post so others can link up, too!)

18 Comments A Remarkable Faith :: Funeral

  1. Sydney March 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Mary, this is such a touching story. It’s so hard to go through a loss when you are young {I know from experience}, especially when you didn’t even know them that long. I don’t think we will ever understand why some people have to die so soon, but we just have to trust God!

    P.S: I’m not linking it up, but I did write the wedding post this week instead. You can check it out if you want!

  2. Merry March 24, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Some things just don’t make sense. I figure it’s those times that God grows our faith because that’s the only way to turn.

  3. nikki March 24, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Wow…this was so heart wrenching to read Mar…I’m so sorry for the loss of such a close friend! Thank you for sharing what this has meant to your faith!

  4. Erin March 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I was in a different dorm and didn’t really know Carrie at all–but I remember this from our freshman year vividly, and I especially remember your pain, Mary. And it was heartbreaking to watch you hurt like that and feeling powerless to do anything to help.

    It was awesome to read some of the fun memories you have of Carrie, and to know about the impact it had on your faith. Love you.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Erin, you all were so supportive and thoughtful, and it really did help me. I even remember that you bought me flowers! I didn’t say it in my post, but of COURSE our freshman family group was my other home-away-from-home family! Love you, too!!

  5. Leigh March 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Accidental deaths are so hard to understand! I’ve never known which is worse- having time to prepare for what’s ahead (like with a terminal illness) which prolongs our grief or the shock of a sudden loss. I’m so sorry for this loss in your life, Mary.

    I, like you, have had many losses in my life. I was trying to think of how many funerals and wakes I’ve attended. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say at least a couple each year since I was born. And God has used quite a few of those losses to shape my faith. Last summer I finally wrote about the death of my cousin Scottie 8 years ago and that’s the post I’m linking up to. I struggled in narrowing down what to write for this week so I hope an old post will suffice. I’m just not ready to write about some of my more recent losses.

  6. Messy Mom March 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I love the picture you chose. She really does like a fun person. LIke you, I have been to many funerals, unfortunately. My little brother’s sticks out to me the most for obvious reasons. I don’t know if you know the song He Loves Us, or the story behind it, but it is very similar to yours.

    Here is a link to his story for you or anyone else interested.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect April 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      I’ve heard that story behind How He Loves. So sad…

  7. chelleybutton March 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t remember Carrie too well either, but I vaguely remember that birthday celebration night and her stopping in, and I also remember having sort of a memorial service for her outside on the quad and singing ‘You are Holy.’ I remember it being emotional also because that was her favorite song (you probably told me that:).

    I don’t do link-ups (wouldn’t know how;), but I do have a funeral that sticks out in my mind and impacted my faith: it was my grandpa’s funeral, and it was the morning of your wedding! (where I turned down a dance — big day, huh?!) The reason it had such an impact on me was because he had taken his own life, and he was one of the only people in my family I knew to be a Christian (and I was a new Christian at the time), so it really confused me. I’d been to funerals before that, but that was the first one where I could not stop crying… and since I was close family I sat up front on the side for everyone to see me bawling and give me pitiful looks — not helpful. Anyway, I still don’t know what suicide means eternally, but I think my grandpa’s in Heaven. :) Just like Carrie. :) So I’ll get to know her better someday! :)

    1. chelleybutton March 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Oh, and like Carrie’s funeral, a song really got to me at my grandpa’s, only it wasn’t him singing; it was just one of his favorites and it was an older couple there who sang it. I don’t know the name of the song, but it goes (in a deep voice), “Daddy sang bass;” (and then in a higher one) “Mama sang tenor” — opened the flood gates for me!!

      1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect April 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

        Good thing you don’t listen to country normally or you might hear that song again and start crying!

    2. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect April 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      I’m sad to think I wasn’t there for you during that time, being distracted by a wedding and all. :( I can’t imagine how confusing that must have been (the suicide and your new faith, not me getting married!).

  8. chelleybutton March 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Oh, and another thought: I love how some of the most kindred spirits are found in the most unlikely of places. Like cheerleaders and homecoming queens. :)

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect April 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      So true. And such a blessing!

  9. Cindy in PA March 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Carrie and for showing how amazing God is to weave the sadness and pain in to strengthening your faith and belief in Him. A beautiful post.

  10. Diana Trautwein March 25, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Wow. This one hit home. I also reflected on the funeral of a friend – those are somehow among the hardest aren’t they? Thanks so much for sponsoring this meme – it has been wonderful to both read and write on these rich topics.

  11. Beverly @ The Buzz April 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I’ve only just discovered your blog–don’t ask me how–but I love it and can relate so well to many of your posts. This coming Monday marks the 5th anniversary of my oldest daughter’s death. The last time I saw her alive was 2 days before she died. My husband and I were leaving for our anniversary trip and stopped by the restaurant where Shana worked. This was definitely a whispering of the Holy Spirit, because our travel plans were in the other direction. I’m so thankful my husband followed that prompting! But when we got ready to leave, Shana wasn’t in sight. I didn’t want to bother her at work, so we just left without saying goodbye. How I wish we’d sought her out and given her one last hug. That will always be one of my greatest regrets.

    1. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect April 6, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Beverly, I am so, SO sorry to hear about your daughter. And thinking about you remembering those last moments when you couldn’t say goodbye – oh, it just breaks my heart for you. I’m so glad you found my blog, and I pray that time eases the pain of your loss.

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