Colin Stephens


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Eulogy given by Alice, Colin's mother April 10, 1999

Thank you for coming today to pay your last respects to Colin. Thank you for all your support, dinners, words of comfort at this time.

I was thinking recently of the TV series "Mash" which some of you may remember. The theme music to that show is called "Suicide is Painless." How foolish and ignorant that songwriter was. He obviously had no experience with the pain that suicide causes to those left behind.

I feel it is important to let Colin's friends know two things: First, that according to the toxicology report, there was absolutely no evidence of drugs or alcohol in him. Second, Colin had been very happy for many weeks before his death. He had been very future oriented. He was to start a job training program on the Monday following Easter. He had asked his girlfriend to go with him to church on Easter Sunday. Colin shared that he had never felt this good in the longest time. Colin always thanked me for being supportive. He thought that his sister Julia was the best sister anyone could ask for. They were very close.

I think it's important to tell you these things, because if they are not, people will draw their own conclusions as to why this happened. We don't have the answers, but our family wants you to know that it had nothing to do with the people he loved in his life.

Colin cared more for others' feelings than his own. For example, I recall one day we went out to lunch and Colin was concerned about a homeless man we passed on the street. In the restaurant, I was annoyed when Colin didn't eat his lunch and had it put in a carry-out box. As we left the restaurant, he handed his lunch to the homeless man and shook his hand. I wouldn't have done that then and I can't think of many other people who would have done that either.

I would also like to mention Colin's girlfriend, Whitney. As a mother, I am so grateful that he met Whitney, and he knew she cared for him very much. Sadly, all the love in the world could not have prevented him from taking his life.

In ending what I have to say, I believe every good person should be treated with dignity. If you see someone who is "different" that you - someone you don't want to be around because they may be acting depressed or sad, someone who is not what you call "physically attractive," or may not share the same life philosophy as you, don't just brush them off. Colin never did and maybe there's a less in that for us all.


SERMON Rev. Rod Miller

This is a difficult time. It's a hard day to face. For family, especially, and for friends. There is a deep sadness that we feel. Many do not understand. We aren't sure what to think, how to make sense of what's gone on. We are probably flooded with a lot of feelings, many feelings. First, let me say that it's good that you are here. All of you. This is a time to be together. To know that your caring and love and prayers are just as real as the pain you may feel.

We come to remember and to give thanks for Colin. A son, a brother, a grandson, a special friend, acquaintance and child of God. Each person here has their own ways to remember Colin. Here are some words and phrases I've heard describe him: Thoughtful, sensitive, caring, deep, quiet, smart, a great smile, genuine, respectful, idealistic, gentle, big brown eyes, humble, troubled by injustices, you could add to that list.

Life is full of questions, friends. Answers are found, yet many questions go on and remain unanswered for us. As bright and knowledgeable as we may be, none of us has all of the answers. That is part of being human. None of us though has walked in Colin's shoes; none of us has seen through Colin's eyes. It's difficult to know his experiences or anybody's experiences - their real struggles and their fears. So this is a time for us to support one another and to experience the support of a loving God. We're bound to each other in ways that even death cannot sever. We are not isolated individuals, but we're a special kind of extended family.

God has a word for you today, friends. It is the promise of HOPE. It is a powerful word which is not diminished in the face of pain, suffering, guilt or even the silence or absence of God. The name God means different things to different people. If I were to ask you for your individual definitions or conceptions of God, I would likely get a huge number of different responses. God is revealed to is in many ways, through Scripture, through prayer, study, meditation, through creation, through one another, Jesus Christ. Yet God is beyond or descriptions. God cannot be fully described because God isn't limited by our ideas or thoughts. God is infinite and God can reach into infinity. God is more than we can imagine and God reaches past our imaginations. God is greater than the greatest there ever has been and God's greatness reaches each one of us, including Colin - all of us.

God is behind the energy of creation which was at the beginning and which will ever be. All that is participates in God's energy - Spirit. We are in that energy flow of God today. And so is Colin's soul, freed from the burdens he bore in this life. His spirit is joined with God, the river of God which flows along, always. Our task is to have compassion and empathy even when we don't understand. We also acknowledge today that life with God goes on past what we see. Darkness and death do not have the last word with God. As God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, so God will give life to us through his spirit which is a part of us and goes on.

The questions continue: "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" Yet the affirmation continues. I am sure that nothing in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the mystery that we live in. This is the mystery that Jesus himself lived in. Both questions and affirmations at the same time. He experienced, Jesus did, what it meant to be utterly lost, abandoned, cut off, alone. Yet he knew that in spite of all, the river of God flowed on.

God does not leave us desolate. Darkness may overwhelm, but it doesn't have the last word. Look at Jesus hanging on the cross. Darkness did not ultimately carry the day. We may not be able to see it. We may not be able to say it.

We may not be able to feel it. But that doesn't mean that God isn't there to catch us. The descent of falling may be long and it may be hard, but God is still there. God's love is stronger than anything that may deny or marginalize that love. God's love is stronger than that. We are here to affirm that today. So, in our pain, in our questions, in our sorrow, we look beyond the loss of Colin, knowing that this mortal life gives way to life in and with God. This doesn't take away the pain, but makes our going on different. Gives a different quality to it.

Here is a prayer of faith: We trust that beyond absence, there is a presence. That beyond the pain, there can be healing. That beyond the brokenness, there can be wholeness. That beyond the anger, there may be peace. That beyond the hurting, there may be forgiveness. That beyond the silence, there may be the word. That beyond the word, there may be understanding. That beyond understanding, there may be love. Amen.

May you be held in that love.

Piano solo: Whitney played Chopin's "Raindrops"
We sang:
Amazing Grace
The Lord's My Shepherd
Morning Has Broken
Shall We Gather at the River

New Testament reading: Matthew 5: 1-10
Psalm 22: 1-2, 9-11, 14-15, 22-24
Gospel Reading: John 14: 1-3, 25-27