I did it again. I attended another patient’s funeral. I have not gone to many over the years of practice, but enough to rediscover each time that it is good to go to a funeral once in a while. We need to hear and think about things that are often only heard at funerals.

At Frank’s funeral each part of the service articulated larger issues that can be crowded out of our thoughts as we go through our busy days. We were reminded in word there are different seasons in life (“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1) with all things under the watchful, loving eye of God whom we can trust (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” Psalm 23:1). We were reminded in song that “This Is My Father’s World” and that God trusts us “to keep it clean and fair” for everyone. In the Lord’s Prayer we were reminded how to treat others the way God treats us: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

We then heard from Frank’s family and friends his relationships to his family, work, church and community. We were told of Frank’s love for his wife, children and wider family members. Frank had worked dutifully for a local business for 25 years before running his own business. He treated his employees with honesty and integrity. Frank made sure to involve himself with his church and he volunteered for a number of community outreach programs, such as feeding the hungry both locally and around the state.

The church was full that day for the funeral, and it was comforting for the family to hear Frank’s impact upon so many in his town. Frank adhered to the spirit articulated in the Bible readings, the songs and the Lord’s Prayer about living in this world for God and our neighbors.

Yet as I sat in the congregation, I realized I had been to several funerals with only few in attendance. Each of these others had rich lives like Frank, so why the difference in attendance? The other individuals did not have family in the area; however, they loved their family and were deeply involved in their lives particularly with their grandchildren. Others worked for years in other states and moved to Maine later in life. Their associates and costumers were a thousand miles away and unable to come to the funeral. Still other worshiped in churches and were involved with communities in other towns in Maine or out of state.

Nevertheless, these others had followed what Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:38-39).

Does it matter that others were denied public recognition with large funerals? Is it not important that they lived good lives whether or not they were honored with a church filled with family, neighbors and colleagues? Where should we store up our accolades or recognition (our treasures)?

Jesus taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20-21).

Where will be our reward for such righteous actions? “Because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:21).

The attendance at my parents’ funerals was also scanty. Others in their generation and family had already passed away. Both parents’ companies had gone out of business or moved away. Mother and Dad were both were beyond volunteer work because of their age and health. However, each had profound effects upon my life, education, profession and family.

For the family, it is comforting to hear eulogies from neighbors about their loved one. But for the deceased isn’t it more comforting to hear from God as they pass from life into heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25: 21)?

Dr. Delvyn C. Case, Jr. is a hematologist/oncologist, playwright and director, columnist and consultant to the Department of Spiritual Care at Maine Medical Center in Portland.