Letter #659: The Death of Grandma


Dear death,

You have a funny way of bringing people together. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the lives of everyone affected, people gather. We are fasciniating creatures. We will halt everything for you. Our aspirations, careers, financial gain, time with people. It doesn’t matter what it is, people stop.

Yet when our loved ones are living, we never seem to be so quick to show up. Major events such as weddings are like pulling teeth, so just an out of the blue phone call to those family members who tend to repeat themselves and who’s ROI on the time spent won’t amount to much probably isn’t happening.

The times we can actually spend with people we often selfishly give up, but when life ends everyone flocks to pay homage. There’s nothing wrong with attending funerals and being present for loved ones. In fact, I believe it brings great closure. But may we also be quick to learn from times of sorrow and invest our time into things that matter.

That being said, a little over a month ago I received a phone call that my Grandma died. Although she was 91, she was healthy, maybe more so than me in some ways, and living at home completely taking care of herself. She lived a LONG life, a full life, but you were still unexpected.

Because of the crazy winter weather, I had the chance to be in Oklahoma longer than I would’ve been otherwise. It was neat to see the Lord’s hand even in the timing of snow allowing me to have extra family time.

Three and a half years ago I started this blog. Let me warn you: Beware. Once you put your writing in public, people expect you to become the family author. Before I was even asked, I’d been chosen to not only write, but also give Grandma’s eulogy. Hello pressure!

Speaking in front of hundreds isn’t necessarily scary to me, but doing it in the midst of emotion as a dead body lies 15 feet away from you”…..exactly. Hello pressure.

Because of extra Oklahoma time, I was able to sit and listen to her three kids and their spouses to gather information about Grandma’s life I never would’ve known otherwise. I felt like an investigative reporter. Gather every fact possible, then begin crafting the actual article.


I refused to be boring. Nobody likes boring. So I wrote it just like I’d write anything else, laced with jokes and sarcasm”…probably as much for me to make it through as for the audience! I spoke the same way I would at kamp“…LOUD, passion-filled and prayerfully truth-centered.

I longed to give a strong delivery of this eulogy. To honor my Grandma, but also to hopefully display the hope we have in the Gospel in the midst of death. I had unleashed an army to pray for my emotional stability Wednesday night at 7:20, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more confident or steady when speaking”…at least in a venue entailing death. Sure, I read my notes a little more than I would’ve liked, but mostly so I didn’t catch eyes with a family member who’d lost it resulting in me doing the same! My brother-in-law videotaped the whole thing and 45 seconds in, you can hear my voice steady. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but I felt the power in that moment!

90th Birthday Celebration! What an honor and privilege it was to call this lady Grandma Brueggen. Thankful for the legacy she has left us with although she is gone.

You truly do have a strange way of bringing people together. The best part is that you have no power over us when a person’s faith has been put in Christ. So often we want to mourn during you and Grandma you sure will be missed, but in reality, when a relationship with Jesus is involved you are the best thing that can happen to us! I think our silly human selves might have a few things backward”…let’s invest our time well while people are alive and tell everyone we can about Jesus so death truly can be a celebration of people going home.

Thankful this is not home,

Apparently a eulogy writer