Revd Sara’s Reflection celebrating loved ones no longer with us
The grieving process takes time, it is important to pause to remember those who have shaped our lives. Our service of Light, Love and Remembering was a time to pause, pray, give thanks and share love and our special memories whilst enjoying Afternoon Tea.
In the moving documentary End Game, about a medical centre for palliative care in the United States, Dr Steve Pantilat says to a chaplain and a social worker: “I think it’s sick people who think about how they are going to live, and healthy people who think about how they are going to die.”
The subject of death and grief will often change the mood in a room, and leave those present feeling overwhelmed and often speechless. Although our own deaths, or the deaths of those whom we love, may preoccupy us, it may be difficult for us to think about death in positive terms.
While there are several reassuring verses in the Bible about God overcoming death with eternal life, for example Revelation 21.4, the stories in the Bible involving death often reinforce our fears.
For example, in the story of Lazarus, his death comes too soon, and we are told that Jesus wept and was “greatly disturbed”. Jesus then enters the tomb and performs a miracle, raising Lazarus from the dead. In the book of Job, God allows Satan to put Job’s faith to the test by causing him to suffer and his children to die. Job cries out to God in pain. The story of Job exemplifies our struggle to understand the problem of suffering and death. Even for Jesus, death is the ultimate sacrifice.
While the meaning of these stories points to a higher purpose and a deeper good, death is seen as something to avoid, and reinforces the perception that death scares and mystifies people. The inevitability of death, coupled with these fears, suggests that a more integrated approach to death during our lives might help a little towards demystifying it.
All Souls’ Day, observed in the Western Church on the day after All Saints’ Day, is an annual commemoration of all the faithful departed, including all those no longer remembered by name, as well as those whose names may be read out in church. These annual traditions recognise that it can take years to cope with grief, or for grief to begin to resolve itself.
Continuing conversation with family and friends is also helpful, remembering by name and sharing those special times which help us smile alongside the heartache and reality of grief. Please do contact me if you would like to be part of our Churches becoming ‘Bereavement Friendly’ – Thank you
love and prayers Revd Sara