Obituary writers have been busy in recent weeks.

The diverse list of deaths includes Sir Ken Dodd, Prof Stephen Hawking and Dr Billy Graham.

I find someone’s death makes me stop and reconsider life. The closer I have been to the person concerned, the more powerful this is.

Last week I attended a funeral at West Herts Crematorium and then a Thanksgiving Service in St Albans.

This was for a long-standing friend and fellow church member who had died, many would say, too young.

Funerals are sad times – and so they should be.

Saying farewell, in this case to a wife, mother, granny, sister and friend, is painful. Sadness, mourning and grief are right, emotional responses for bereavement, especially for those who have lost most.

The family had chosen verses in the Bible from the book of Romans, chapter 8. This is a powerful passage about Christian certainty: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”.

The point made at the funeral was not that such certainty removes our sadness, but that followers of Jesus can know this certainty within their grief.

Christians are not taken out of the problems and pain of everyday life, but can be sure of a certain future within all the hardships that life throws at us today.

Life is tough, death is hard for those who remain, but there can be a sure hope – as we shall remember in resurrection on Easter Day.

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