In the Burial Service, a line in the Preface, (the prayer that begins the Holy Communion section reads, “For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended…”). I have always taken these words to mean the eternal life promised in the Gospels and won for us by the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, offering hope to the bereaved that we will see our loved ones again in the world to come amidst life changed in ways we cannot even imagine.
Lately I have been wondering if those same words might be interpreted another way as well, that they don’t only refer to the deceased, but also to those left behind. Certainly for New Yorkers, and indeed for all Americans, and perhaps even for the world, life was changed, very changed after 9/11.
The same can be said whenever we lose a loved one. Our lives are not ended, but they sure are changed. Such losses are not to be “gotten over.” They can’t be because the loss has changed the way we ourselves live. Our lives will not be the same going forward.
A colleague of mine who lost his 32 year old son in a motorcycle accident, compared the loss to an amputation. He said the death was like losing an arm. In time the wound healed over but he still had to learn how to live without his arm. I thought that was an apt metaphor for the bereavement process, especially because it suggests that the grieving process takes time and effort—and the help of others.
The holiday season is often the hardest time to deal with the absence of loved ones. If you have suffered a loss this year, or any time in the past that still hurts in the present, we invite you to come together for Good Grief, a time of prayer, refreshment and mutual support on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27 after the 10:30 service.
May God bless, comfort and sustain you!