Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Sermon at Grandson's Funeral


Eulogy at the Requiem Eucharist

in memory of Austin Alexander Lindsay

in Trinity Church, New Haven, CT.

on Monday, August 15, 2011

Given by The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey

Priest retired of the Episcopal Church


Austin Lindsay was my first grandson. His mother, Leigh Cromey is my first daughter.

Funerals are not to celebrate life. Funerals are times and places to mourn, to feel sad, to feel guilty and express our sorrow. Funerals are a time to allow yourself to be a mess.

The best way to move from pain and sorrow is to allow that guilt, allow, that sadness, cry those tears. Keep allowing that suffering to just be there. Of course you go to work, take care of the kids and have a martini. Grieving is a gift from God, a precious gift that moves us toward healing and new life.

I baptized Austin in 2001 at Trinity Church, San Francisco, California when I was rector there.

Austin was the perfect bouncing baby boy. The ready smile the relentless competitor. Once when he was five I went for walk with him. He kept attacking me, as boys tend to do as a way of expressing affection. He charged up to me, grabbed me, I unpeeled his am and pushed him away and he fell down. He got right up and attacked me again. I pushed him down and he got up, ran at me again. This happened at least a dozen times. His chubby little legs kept charging at grandpa Robert. Now I know why I had to have knee replacement

When we had breakfast together, I would do the crossword puzzle and Austin and his brother Daniel and sister Catherine vied for the right word. Austin would hate it if his sister thought of a word first. But he loved to do them with me.

Austin and is family joined Ann and me in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico one winter. Ann took them on a hike past some the very poor and hungry people by a stream. Austin told me he was glad he had an opportunity to see such poverty at first hand. He was exhilarated to join his dad on a parachute ride that carried him high over the city and the bay.

Austin was a choirboy here in this church until his voice changed. He was quite fetching in his red robe and stiff collar.

He liked good novels and he, my wife Ann and Almariet his girl girlfriend discussed books together the last time Ann and I saw Austin.

Then there was college and drugs. Then Austin died.

Austin told me he was an atheist. Well, he isn't now.

Many scientists tell us that when we die, we are dead, it’s over. That is all there is. But science is not the only way of knowing. From time immemorial post have sung of life after death. Homer, Dante, Milton. Wordsworth wrote of Intimations of immortality. Great music moves us to celebrate that death is not end of life. Listen to Bach’s B Minor Mass for instance. Many of us have an .instinct about life eternal.

We Christians here in this church have a sure and certain hope in resurrection and new life. Our hope and belief is that Austin is in the hands of a loving God. Of course we can’t prove that empirically. But that is our faith. That hope is based on our Christian story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died because he was a revolutionary. The religious and political leaders feared him because of his radical ideas. He preached that we need to feed the hungry, heal the sick, free the oppressed, and stand for peace. So Jesus died on the cross. We believe he rose again from the dead at Easter. We believe his resurrection means that all of us survive our mortal deaths, life continues in mystical and new ways that we do not understand.

Austin died because of illegal drugs. They affect the lives of millions of people in this country and around the world.

I hope we go out of this church with a renewed determination to find creative ways to control illegal drugs. All the ways are complex and controversial but drugs are affecting our young people.

I hope we go out of this church in memory of Austin to find ways to end drug trafficking.

I hope we go out of this church in memory of Austin to help all young people resist illegal drugs.


Austin, we are with you ‘til we meet again.

Austin, “God be with you ‘til we meet again.

LINDSAY, AUSTIN ALEXANDER Austin Alexander Lindsay, aged 20, died unexpectedly on Thursday night, August 4, in his apartment in Mansfield Connecticut. His friends and family will remember him for his humor and wit, generosity and selfless hospitality towards people he met. He was an avid reader, a graduate from Hamden High School in 2008, and he was enrolled at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He is survived by his parents, David Lindsay and Leigh Cromey, and his siblings Daniel and Catherine in Hamden, CT. There will be a Memorial Service on Monday, August 15 at 5 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in New Haven, on the corner of Temple and Chapel. In lieu of flowers, we suggest a donation in Austin's memory to a reputable organization fighting drug addiction such asHazelden.org or FamilesAnonomous.org.