Most of us have been through the loss of a loved one – it’s a part of the human experience we all share. And as we seek to work through our grief, it’s remarkable our similarities.
Perhaps the greatest common ground is in our desire to honour the memory of those who have passed on. I’ve had the privilege of participating in a number of funerals and memorial services, and it is inspiring to hear the love and admiration for the legacy of a life well lived.
So even in death we find hope – hope that something of the departed lives on. More than half of Canadians believe in heaven, and many more than that would agree that those who have died survive in the people whose lives they have touched.
Remembrance Day is another good example of loving memory; we express our gratitude to the soldiers who have sacrificed over the years to protect our nation. We gathered at the cenotaph on Sunday to honour those who have served and those who have died.
Did you know that the word “cenotaph” is derived from the Greek for “empty tomb?” Though the term refers to a tomb that honours the fallen who have been buried elsewhere, I find a connection to what I believe.
Jesus was executed for crimes he did not commit and put in a tomb. After three days, he rose from the dead and the tomb was found empty. His resurrection was a demonstration of power over death, and it gives us hope that there is life after death for us and our loved ones.
That’s what faith is about. We believe that there is more—more than we can see or even imagine. The harsh realities of life and death are not the end of the story.
The people we know are more than biological organisms that lived, functioned, and died. The people we know are spiritual beings that amount to more than elaborate collections of cells. We are made in the image of God with a divine spark that endures. Therefore, the knowledge that the beloved ones we have lost are not truly gone comes from the spiritual character of how we were created. We know that there is more.
Just one more thought: make sure to tell your loved ones what their lives mean to you while they’re around to hear it. Too often those kind words are only spoken in a eulogy, when the person being praised is no longer around to hear it. Let’s honour not only those we’ve lost, but also those we still have.