In November we have Remembrance Day. Some of us, sadly, will be remembering loved ones whom we have lost quite recently. For others, time may have played its part in lessening the pain of the loss. Yet others will be remembering those lost in conflict, either long ago, or even, perhaps, more recently.
Coming to terms with death is not easy. There will be incredible sadness; loneliness; emptiness. We’ll want to deny it. We’re likely to be angry. But ultimately we have to face the fact of death if we are ever to move on – if we are to live instead of simply existing.
When someone dies, life – as it was with that person – never returns to normal. No matter how strong our faith, they are no longer physically there, and we have to adjust. Somehow we need to go forward, not denying that person’s existence or value to us, but taking that into account as we frame a new way of living. Perhaps we will try to keep their memory alive, but we can’t escape the fact that we have to make a new beginning.
We may feel totally alone, and sometimes it will be much later before we realise that even in our deepest grief God was there all the time, and never let us go. We are all equally precious in God’s sight, and He is the one who is always there to help us to put back together the broken fragments of our lives when those lives are shattered. God speaks in Isaiah 43:1: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine”. We are His. When we suffer, God suffers with us. When life is damaged, God shares the pain.
Some of us can help others by reaching out, as Jesus would have done, and then we become as Jesus to that other person. We can be real and effective channels of God’s comfort, healing and love.
I’d like to quote two stanzas from a poem entitled “Endings” by Marjorie Dobson:
“This is the end”, said Mary “This is the end” said Jesus
bent with sorrow at the cross’s foot as his tortured body gave itself to death
where hung her Son. And darkness fell.
And yet she heard And yet He knew
“Take care of her”, and felt His love this end was but a new beginning.
surround her even then No power of Rome or priest could keep
within the arms of John. the love of God within a tomb.
I pray that all who are bereaved and suffering, and remembering loved ones at this time, will feel the warmth of God’s love and the comfort of His presence.
With every blessing
Annie Billson, Assistant Priest, Crowland Parish