By Paul Koch

I remember years ago, I think it was when I was still in high school, we had a class assignment where we wrote out our own obituary. Now, that may sound a bit dark, but I think the goal of the exercise was to cause you to think about your future: about what sort of person you would want to be and what sort of things you might want to accomplish in life. To start, you would think about what you would want people to say about yourself. This might reveal what sort of characteristics you value most, and so you would want to work on them. Would they say that you were kind or compassionate, trustworthy, or even wise?

By Bob Hiller

Have you ever been to funeral where people got up and spoke negatively about the deceased? Almost never. When friends and family gather to mourn the loss of those they love, they always speak well of the person. As you leave most funerals, you’d almost think that there is no such thing as sin in the world. The wages of sin is death, we’re told, so it is a true mystery to everyone present why this pillar of morality, joy, and laughter is about to be laid six feet under!

By Cindy Koch

A few months ago, I had to tell my daughter she was dying. I had known for some time, but she wasn’t quite old enough to grasp the truth of what was happening. So as parents do when the children are small, I could only bring myself to give her part of the story—age appropriate tidbits as she grew in understanding. It’s very possible I did the wrong thing. Maybe I should have drowned her with the gory details from the beginning. But because of the nature of things and the pace of our life, even I periodically forgot about her sickness. Finally, the opportunity presented itself, and the truth has come out.

By Paul Koch

On Tuesday, I read news that the last male northern white rhino had died. Named Sudan, the rhino is survived by two females, and while scientists have hope for in vitro fertilization to save the species, the outlook isn’t very promising. The head of the wildlife conservancy that was caring for Sudan had this to say, “It’s very sad to lose Sudan because it shows clearly the extent of human greed and what sort of impact humans beings can have on nature. If we don’t take care of what we have, we will definitely continue to lose it, particularly lose other species that are currently endangered.”

By Paul Koch

Have you ever spent time with someone who is dying? And I don’t mean someone who is surprised by death’s arrival—the brutal car accident or the massive heart attack that sent us rushing to speak final words in a moment’s notice. No, I mean the brother or sister on hospice care who knows that they will not see another Christmas or another birthday but is patiently waiting for our Lord to call them home. Have you been there with them, talked with them, prayed with them, wept with them, and laughed with them?

By Tim Winterstein


A few years ago, I did the funeral for my grandmother in a small town in eastern Oregon. My grandfather (who had died a couple years prior) and she had lived in this town for many years, and I had visited them there both as a child and then later when I was married with my own family. But what struck me about doing my grandmother’s funeral was that, with her, my last physical connection to that little town died. I could visit on vacation, as I would anywhere else. But there was no familial reason to return there again.

By Joel Hess

Recently I led a funeral service for a 98 year old World War Two vet. When I mention to someone I am doing a funeral, without exception I will be asked, “How old was he?” If the deceased was young (remarkably, the definition of ‘young’ changes with one’s own age), the friend will inevitably react with shock and sympathy. The sympathizer will remark how unnatural and wrong it is for someone to die so young.