Easter may not be the time of year that first springs to mind when thinking about how hard grief can be on special days or festivals. However, Easter can be particularly tough, with talk of spring, new life, resurrection and rebirth. Everyone else seems to be feeling positive about warmer weather and longer days, and planning family get-togethers, yet someone who has been bereaved might not feel able to share in this.
What can we as churches to do to acknowledge this, and ease that pain?
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Maybe the person leading a service can begin by recognising those whose loved ones have died and a prayer be included especially for them? Perhaps a remembering tree can be made available with cards on which to write someone’s name. Or cards could be sent or a small gift to those who have been bereaved or whose anniversaries fall at this time. The AtaLoss ‘Remembering Someone’ badges could be used for this purpose.
Easter Saturday is a very appropriate time to hold a special service for remembering. That day between Good Friday and Easter Saturday when the disciples will have been full of grief and sadness, confusion and loss, provides us with space to remember loved ones. Pete Greig’s The Prayer Course II: Unanswered Prayer has an excellent session on exploring the questions we ask when we find ourselves trapped between the pain of Good Friday and the miracles of Easter Sunday.
If you aren’t able to hold a special service, having the church open for private prayer, with some prayer resources available would be a good alternative.
“Dearest Jesus, who wept at the death of your friend
and taught that they who mourn shall be comforted,
grant us the comfort of your presence in our loss. Amen.”
Even as we rejoice in the good news of your risen life, we remember those who are struggling to find comfort.
Draw close to those who are grieving, for whom every special gathering reminds them of absence, and every sign of Spring speaks of loss.
Help us to know that you are with us in the darkness as we wait for the dawn to break. You are with us in the silence as we wait to hear your voice again. You are with us in our loneliness as we wait to find companionship once more.
Give wisdom and compassion to those who encounter those who have been bereaved, that they might have eyes to see and ears to hear the unspoken needs and pains from loss, whether recent or long ago.
Show us all more of your risen life, that moment by moment, day by day we may become witnesses of the joy and hope we find in your resurrection life.
Also, do plan to run The Bereavement Journey after Easter for those who have found it a difficult time and would like some help to process their grief.