All funerals are sad, but I attended a memorable funeral a few weeks ago. Almost six years ago, I expressed my discomfort in home teaching a mentally ill man. When I first met him, he told me he was a paranoid schizophrenic, he heard voices, and he didn’t want Obama to take away his gun. I swear he was trying to scare me away. I received some good advice in that post to just be his friend. That’s what I tried to do.
I went almost every month, and it is probably the only time I have felt truly needed as a home teacher. During the time I was his home teacher, his car was hit from behind and he suffered severe migraines for the rest of his life. I took him to the emergency room on several occasions to treat the migraines. He once asked me for a blessing and told me that following the blessing he was going to drink some Jack Daniels because he hasn’t slept in days and he needed to sleep. He once had a reaction to drinking beer and taking pills. He later told me he wanted to commit suicide by cop.
There was another time his vehicle hit someone while he was on prescription medication. He was concerned he would be arrested for a DUI, but since his mental illness was well known to law enforcement, he wasn’t charged. To say it was the most eventful four years of home teaching is an understatement. We are no longer in the same ward, but my old partner called me and told me he died in his sleep.
I came a little early, expecting to come to the viewing before the funeral, and was disappointed to learn he has been cremated a few days earlier. I knew it would be a small funeral. It was held in the Relief Society room with just 30 chairs set up; at least the chairs were almost filled up. His mother had died about six months earlier, and had been in poor health due to suffering two strokes. His brother spoke and said they originally weren’t going to have a funeral because they didn’t think anyone would come. His aunt flew in from Hawaii and indicated she didn’t know him very well. They all indicated that he had lived a hard life. His (current) home teacher and former bishop gave the opening and closing prayers because he really didn’t know anyone in the ward or even his extended family. Truly he lived a solitary existence. I felt almost compelled to visit the graveside service where they buried his ashes, as well as the family luncheon where just a handful of people attended. I think my companion and I were the people who knew him best.
I’m sure he is reunited with his mother, and his life in God’s kingdom has to be better than the hell on earth he endured. The struggles he experienced on earth seemed quite unfair. I feel I should have helped him more, but glad he counted on me during some of his most painful times in life.
Have you ever met someone who lived such a tough life?