I had never conducted a funeral or offered a eulogy before. I relied on advice from many friends who are ministers to provide some outlines. I borrowed from a Methodist minister's outline, supplemented it with liturgical elements from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, and infused it with an evangelical message of hope in the Resurrection. The result was the following text.
Helmut (Al) Kosel, age 82, of Marion, IN, died Monday, January 6, 2014, at Colonial Oaks Health & Rehab in Marion, IN. He was the son of the late Erich Max Kosel and the late Berta Kosel. He was born in Danzig, Germany, on November 13, 1931. Al came to the United States in 1955 and became a US Citizen in 1966. He served in the US Army from 1956 to 1958. He married Beverly Barton Yeager on August 30, 1969. Al retired in March 1994 from Peerless Machine & Tool where he worked as a machinist for 30 years. Al enjoyed breakfast with his fellow workers and riding his motorcycle. He was a handyman, building his own home, and he enjoyed camping and attended Westview Wesleyan Church.
Al was preceded in death by his son Erich Kosel; his stepdaughter Pamela (Yeager) Herring; his sisters Helen Smith and Kittie Bartels. He is survived by his wife Beverly; daughters Janice (Kosel) Boshers and Michelle (Yeager) Price; three sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law; 15 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and 3 great-grandchildren on the way.
Al was beloved by his friends and family. He was known by many as “Father Al” and earned the nickname “Almight Brother-In-Law” from the late Ronald Smith. To us grandchildren, he was known affectionately as “Opa”.
Opa was the reason I began studying history. That was because Opa was living history. His life story is a piece of the past. He witnessed the invasion of German forces into Danzig en route to Poland, an event that began the European aspect of World War II. During the war, he moved with his family to Berlin, where he lived through the collapse of the Third Reich and Allied occupation. He left a divided Germany for the United States. The night that sparked my interest in history was the night I watched with Opa the collapse of the Berlin Wall. I watched tears form in his eyes as he witnessed the event. After decades of political unrest, his homeland would reunite.
What is interesting about history is that it connects the past to the present and it allows the dead to remain alive in our memories. History teaches us that the past is not dead, but it continues to live forever.
It is appropriate that we start with history to begin a eulogy. The liturgy for a funeral is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the Resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead we, too, shall be raised.
Today we have gathered to celebrate Opa’s life and his new eternal life in Christ. Opa possessed a quiet and confident faith. He met Oma at church, and joined her at New Hope Methodist and later at Westview Wesleyan. While at Colonial Oaks, he participated in prayer meetings and testified to God’s faithfulness.
God showed his faithfulness to and through Opa time and again. Even in the midst of loss, Opa still praised God. And even in Opa’s absence, God faithfully provided to our family. The morning after Opa passed, my mom brought Oma breakfast. Oma found in Opa’s pants the exact amount of money as what breakfast cost. Opa loved to have breakfast, whether they were gatherings with his old work buddies, coffee and donuts in the kitchen, or eggs and bacon over the largest cast-iron skillet ever at a campsite. Even the day after he had gone, Opa still provided breakfast.
Opa always showed his love for his family in the way he provided for them. He built a home for Oma, mom, and Aunt Pam. He raised a family that had great values and love for one another. And he provided laughs, lots and lots of laughs. Opa always laughed during a game of Euchre, accusing people of having “dealt that schmeer” and “gedoosed it”; the skits and songs performed by the grandkids; and Erich’s jokes and antics.
Our memories help to keep Opa alive in our hearts. We are comforted by those memories and by knowing that he has joined with Jesus and with his loved ones who went before him. This reminds me of what Opa would have called--in his gruff voice-- “good grief.”It is good grief to know that our loved ones have gone to be with the Lord. Last night, Oma shared with me her assurance and her peace in knowing that Opa no longer suffers and that he has joined others in meeting Jesus.