Remembrance Sunday and All Souls are both associated with the month of November, with All Souls falling at the very end of October this year. However, both remind us of those who have died and are now resting in peace. Each of us will respond differently to situations of grief, whether these are linked to family members lost or wounded through war, or through personal loss of family or friends in more recent years.
While grief brings about a lot of emotions, God our heavenly Father knows we experience all these, and He is patient as we work through our feelings. So that’s one positive to hold on to as we remember those who have died. Another positive is to remember good times, which are often the last memories to come to mind, but eventually find their way through the memories of the usual ups and downs of any relationship. Yet another is the example left to us by previous generations, who survived through the austerity of war, along with all that those years brought with them. Those times brought out the strength of character which I see in many 90+ year old friends today, many of whom have clearer memories and capacity to reason than those of us who are busied by the technological and materialistic pressures of our contemporary lives, and who are incredibly physically fit for their years.
One of the main strengths which came out of the war years was the increased sense of neighbourliness. People pulled together in the face of the daily troubles of life, which affected everyone, regardless of class or status. The Queen Mother gave an excellent example of sharing in the struggles of daily life by remaining in London with her family, exposed to the bombings, when she could easily have moved away and kept the family safe from danger. Our present Queen Elizabeth served as a mechanic during the Second World War, joining with others to come together to protect our nation.
It is in coming together, sharing together in whatever befalls us in life, that builds up community. God loves each one of us, and as we live in His image, we are called to love one another, and support each other. We can only do this if we come to God to give us strength, and by focussing on all He does for us. This is well described in the words of a hymn: ‘Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ’.
If we keep God at the centre of our lives, if we live in thankfulness to Him for the good gifts He showers on us – even if times are dark and we have to seek them out – then we will be able to live in His image, to love one another and to support each other in good neighbourliness, which brings us through the troubles of this life, be it grief or any other tragedy, following the example of those who have gone before.