The three days of the Easter Triduum, occurring from dusk on Holy Thursday to dusk on Easter Sunday, offer a message of hope in the midst of loss for those who grieve the loss of a loved one.
On Good Friday, Jesus dies on the Cross. On Holy Saturday, there is confusion and uncertainty bordering on depression. On Easter Sunday, Jesus rises from the dead.
When a person of faith, a committed believer in the saving power of Jesus Christ, closes his or her eyes for the final time, and opens them again to never sleep again, this three-part pattern begins.
There is grieving over the loss of a loved one, a relative, a friend. There are tears and sorrow, and gatherings for comfort, as family and acquaintances come together to mourn the loss of the deceased. Picture the Apostle John, Mary, and the Christ’s few followers crouched at the foot of the Cross and grieving.
A Time for Sorrow and Joy
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the death, family dynamics, and the complexity of other issues, members of the immediate family will individually and collectively go through a period of mourning, a time of confusion and distress.
Yes, when we lose a loved one, it's "normal" and understandable for us to grieve physically and emotionally, and continue to mourn in our own way, and on our own timetable. The valley into which we can descend can be shallow, or very deep when the loss involves a younger person or comes unexpectedly.
But when the deceased is a person of faith, a committed believer, and the family and others gathered share the same commitment, the passing of their loved one and friend is a "mixed blessing,” especially after months or years of suffering. It’s a time for tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
A Time for Joy
The resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday, shows us how exultation comes out of tragedy, good overwhelms bad, victory over loss. It's a story that gives hope to all who grieve.
The one message that should be a given at any Christian funeral or memorial service is the hope offered to all believers by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Family and friends are consoled and given peace knowing the deceased is experiencing a new life, and they can all look with hope for new life as they look forward to seeing the deceased again.
As Christians who have a personal relationship with the one who died and resurrected, there is a dynamic of hope reflected in the loss that occurs on Good Friday, the confusion and doubt that occurs on Holy Saturday, and the joy that occurs on Easter.
In God’s Words
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
In the Words of Others
“Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons.” Elizabeth Kubler Ross
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with It as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” George Eliot
In Your Words
If you lost loved one or good friend, describe your feelings immediately after their death and how they changed in the following days and weeks. How do you feel about that?
How did your faith or lack of faith, or that of the deceased, influence any of these experiences and those feelings?
Meditate on the three days of the Easter Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Prayerfully consider the message of hope they offer for those grieving.