Black men I’ve mourned

I’ve preached more than 800 funeral sermons. Many of these deaths have marked me.

“Where there is love, death always comes at least one day too soon.” I do not know when I started saying these words, but I often find myself rehearsing them at funerals.

I am a Black man, and the older I become, the more I mourn the loss of other Black men. Every death is a tragedy and a trauma for families, friends, and communities, and I am not suggesting that the death of men is more significant than the death of women. (We have had too much of that understanding in 2,000 years of patriarchy in the church, including in its funeral traditions.) And while the ever-present realities of race and racism loom large, this is not a commentary on the glaring examples that arrest public attention and sentiment for a season (until the next one happens). Death harms and hurts, even without headlines.

Nevertheless, I cannot deny that I am internally shaped by my own grief and loneliness around the loss of Black men close to me.