on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Deep Relationships — Day 37

I had the privilege of giving the eulogy at a friend’s memorial service today.

He was two years younger than I.  It was an “easy” service to do because of his love and faithfulness to his family, an impressive list of deep friendships that he nurtured daily, and the compassion that he offered to others throughout his professional and personal life.

His faith was real and deep, and his sense of humor was a joy to be around.  He had conquered an addiction earlier in his personal life and had become a wounded healer in his work as an addiction counselor.

Many other people whom I love were also present.

I shared the service with my friend Sarah, who is one of the finest pastors and preachers I have ever known.  We went to seminary together, our fathers were pastors in the same state together, and we have known each other since 1977.

Judy was on the third row and has been a friend for a decade and a half.  She has an amazing gift of hospitality and makes people comfortable in her home.  When you know Judy, you want to hug her.  She breaks bread with friends in her home weekly and helps some who feel like outcasts to be engulfed in an inner circle of love regularly.  We have also been to a lot of funerals together.

Glenda and I made eye contact early in the service and nodded a blessing to one another.  She saved my life and got me back on track when she was my therapist in the mid-90’s as I returned to Birmingham and went through a divorce.  We hugged and caught up after the service.  I made sure I told her again what a difference she has made, and still makes, in my life.

But I’ve also been thinking about my own funeral service, or more accurately my life.  I am in good health at 54 years old, and hope it will be awhile before I die.  But I am reminded daily in my work as a hospital Chaplain that the day of my death will surely come.  For some people, this is depressing or morbid to ponder.  But it can be a positive, motivating reflection to be more present each day that we live.

How do you want to make a difference in this world? What do you hope people will say about you while you are living, as well as on the day of your funeral and afterwards?  What legacy will you leave the human family?

Live today, live simply, make today count.

And thank you Sarah, Judy, and Glenda.


Please share how you want to be remembered or your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Suzann Sherer Smith

    Malcolm, I didn’t know him well but enjoyed so much hearing your comments yesterday. I hope that one day in the distant future someone will speak so kindly of me. Give my love to Mary. XO

  2. Patrick Chappell

    Beautiful service, Malcolm. Your stories, your warmth, and your sincerity really made me feel like i knew him…& how I wish I did!

  3. Malcolm

    Dear Suzann and Patrick, thank you both for being there yesterday. There was a lot of love in that room! Your presence spoke volumes of what that community of folks mean to you. Peace.

  4. Ann McGraw

    I’m so sorry about your loss, Malcolm…especially for someone so young. Whenever I hear about the death of a believer I think about the scripture that says we do not grieve as those without hope.(I Thess. 4:13) I’m grateful for that good word in the midst of grief!

  5. Malcolm

    Thanks Ann for your compassion regarding our loss in the community of a bright light among us. Your presence here is always encouraging, keep up the good work.

  6. Edna Shurden Langley

    Malcolm, everyone should have a community of faith surrounding them as the one your friend had. I know of no better church family anywhere to walk with one through the valley of the shadow of death. And, you, my friend, taught and modeled for that faith community so much about loving, caring and including. I was recipient of your example and teaching and for that I will always be grateful. I celebrate with you the life of your friend and grieve with you his loss. Peace.

  7. Malcolm

    Edna, you know the benefits of deep relationships in your life. You have always nurtured them. Thank you for your kind words, but especially around mentioning the importance of inclusiveness. For me, inviting people into whatever circle we are in is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. Peace.

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