March 1

Written by Bill Grandi on March 1st, 2023

I hear a lot of different words and thoughts expressed at a funeral. I hear “Man, he loved well. He love Jesus. He loved people. He loved his/her family.” I might hear “He/she was a person of integrity” or “a person who had such a kind heart.” Words of love, appreciation, and thanksgiving.

But the saddest words I hear are not “I’m going to miss him/her” (although they do make my heart hurt), or “I have a hole in my heart.” No, the saddest words are two: “If only.”

They are words of regret. “If only I had told him/her I love them more often.” “if only I had gone to visit them like I wanted to.” “If only I hadn’t forgotten.” “If only I hadn’t been so busy/preoccupied.” The “if onlys” could go on.

As I said, they are words of regret. One last visit never happened. One last act of kindness goes undone. One last word of affection goes unsaid.

In Matthew 26 there is a story of a lady who understood what Jesus was saying about His imminent death. She may have been the only one in the room who did. She took a jar of very expensive perfume (I’ve heard estimates of its worth being about $25,000 in today’s currency) and poured it on His head.  When protests were made, Jesus rebuked them and said, “This woman has done a beautiful thing.” You see…she understood there was no waiting.  There would be no “if only.”

How about you? Is there something you need to say to or is there something you need to do for someone? Is there someone you need to go see? Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile or at least try to repair a relationship? Why wait? Why allow “if only” even the remotest possibility to be part of your vocabulary?

Now. Now is the time. Avoid the “if only.”


12 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ryan S. says:

    Having experienced the regret of missing the opportunity with my own dad, I can relate to what you have written. No time like the present to begin the process of reconciliation. It may not be reciprocated, but at least give it a try.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      I agree Ryan. It is so important to try. It then puts “the ball in their court” but at least you know you did what God wanted.

  2. Amen, Bill! I pray I have no “if onlys” in my life going forward. Thanks so much for this timely reminder.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      At our age (and I’m older than you) the “if onlys” need to be taken care of. I’m glad you have none.

  3. gail says:

    My biggest if only at a funeral is when I know the person is not saved. I always feel like, did I try hard enough, say enough, give my testimony strong enough, or at the first sign of being pushed away, did I run. I know I could have done a better job. It just breaks my heart, when I know that moment when they realize there is no changing their place in eternity. I’m standing there listening to people say things about heaven that are simply not true, and they have it wrong and need the truth. I stand there thinking this is not the place to say, you only have one chance to get this right, when it’s to late, the moment cannot be reversed.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Been there done that Gail. As a pastor who does and has done a lot of funerals it is hard to sit and listen. That, however, is not the time for me to judge or “send them to hell.” But like you, that is probably my biggest “if only.”

  4. Kari Scare says:

    After the death of my step-dad almost three years ago and my dad almost two years ago, I’ve purposed to decreased the “what ifs” in my life. I’ve not done it perfectly, but I have made progress in being more consistent. It’s not just with the people in my life, either. I want to decrease the “what ifs” in every area, from how and what I write, say, and do (and those that I don’t). I want to decrease them by increasing obedience to Christ. I want to decrease them by being led by the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the reminder to refocus in this area.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss Kari. MY mother went to see Jesus in 2004 and my dad passed in 2017 (at age 90). I don’t even know where he is buried. Somewhere in PA. Anyway, it sounds like you are taking an active role in eliminating the “if only” and “what ifs” in your life. Good for you! There will be no regrets when it is your time to go. I like your idea of decreasing and increasing.

  5. Ed says:

    What’s really crossed my mind often enough at funerals is.. “I hope they heard about Jesus from someone, sometime in their lives!”

    Sure, that probably is the case most times.

    But let me just say one thing: Most of us who have been Christians for some time and have been around the departed (or their families) have already left an impression on them.

    We must always remember that our testimony to even ONE family member can have a ripple effect.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean they received our witness and ran with it (to Jesus). But if they have HEARD about Jesus at all (and His gift of Salvation) then that is enough!

    • Bill Grandi says:

      You are right Ed. We should leave an impression of Jesus with those we come in contact with. And let’s hope it led them to Jesus…even if we are not aware of it at the moment.

  6. Zoe Jones says:

    This is such a touching blog post. The words we hear at a funeral truly reflect the impact a person made on others during their life. It’s heartbreaking to hear the regretful words of “if only” because it highlights missed opportunities and moments that can never be relived. It’s a reminder to cherish our loved ones and make sure they know how much they mean to us. My question is, how can we ensure that we don’t have any “if only” moments with our loved ones? What steps can we take to make sure we show them our love and appreciation while they are still with us?

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Hi Zoe! Thanks for coming by. You make a good point about it being heartbreaking to hear the “if only.” I will answer your questions when I have more than just a second (which is where I am right now). Look for it soon.