My Aunt Nell passed away this summer. She was actually my mother's maternal aunt but since there was only six years difference between them, they were more like sisters.
My grandfather died when my mother was only two and so she was raised with my Aunt Nell on the farm in Houston, Missouri. Mom remembers making presentations in high school when she got to wear Aunt Nell's nicer outfits. Aunt Nell was working at the time and so Mom had access to a wardrobe that was unavailable to other high school girls at the time. Mom shared recently that it was nice of her to lend her outfits like that - she had a generous spirit.
The bonds we have with family are special and when they pass into the life eternal, we grieve the hole that their loss leaves in our lives. To mourn someone is to acknowledge the love we shared has now changed. We continue to love them but we no longer experience their presence.
The adjustment can sometimes be difficult and our emotions may be rather intense. The time it takes to come to a new normal usually varies per person and there is no set amount of time for someone to "get over it."
Within the church, we recognize All Saints Day on November 1. In worship (usually the first Sunday in November), we print the names of those church members who have passed away since last year's All Saints Day in our bulletins and as each name is read, a candle is lit.
This can be a helpful visual reminder of their continued vitality in the life eternal.
As we receive Holy Communion, one of our beliefs is that as we commune with Christ, we do so not only with those who are physically present with us but also with all the saints of the past who also join us in this sacrament. This can be especially comforting to those who are grieving.
To recognize that a loved one who may have knelt side-by-side with you at the altar rail is also receiving the elements - communing in heaven - can be an understanding that eases the ache.
As we worship together in Edmond this Sunday, there will also be a time when you can write the name of a loved one you want to remember on a card in worship and leave it at the altar rail. This will be symbolic of how we continue to commune with our loved ones when we receive the sacrament. It will hopefully be meaningful and helpful to those who are missing the newly departed. I'll be writing down my Aunt Nell's name.
Photo by Matthew Bowden via Wikimedia Commons