1 April 2021
For my family, Easter is a season of remembering death.
Yep – there’s the whole ‘Jesus on a cross’ situation that actually has the most to do with Easter, but we’ve had a couple of significant family deaths around the Easter period.
My father-in-law died on Palm Sunday, some twelve years ago. The commemoration of the actual date actually takes second place to the commemoration each Palm Sunday. While his death was expected, it left an indelible mark on us all.
And then, one year ago, my brother-in-law died in unexpected and tragic circumstances. Today we commemorated – on Maundy Thursday – his death. It’s been an amazingly uplifting and simultaneously heartbreaking day.
I heard last week someone talking about endings and beginnings. Yes – it was in the context of the Christian story of Easter, but it spoke to me about how it relates to my family.
When my father-in-law died, the end of his life signalled a new beginning for the family. A beginning of taking on the role of caring for my mother-in-law, beyond the role we had all accepted prior. It triggered issues within the family that had to be dealt with. It triggered a new life for my mother-in-law. It triggered a new awareness within the family of our own mortality, as this was the first death within the immediate family. It began a new family, from the bones of the existing family.
My brother-in-laws’ death came as a huge shock to us all, and had overwhelming impact on his loved ones. For his parents, the devastating impact of having one of your offspring die before you. For his wife, the shock of losing your life partner, of having all your shared dreams and visions ripped apart. For his children, the knowledge that he will never again be a physical part of their support network, and never experience with you the directions your life will now take. For his grandchildren, the memories will now mostly come from stories and photos.
For us – the siblings, the sibling in-laws, cousins and extended family, we are missing a big connection.
But it’s a beginning. Yes, for the two men involved, it was an ending of their time breathing the air on this earth. The beginning of time without that person in our lives is the start of something new.
We begin a new path. It is a path that is a bumpy path of working your way through grief and learning how to live without that person. It’s a beginning you don’t ask for and if given the choice, would not want.
You don’t get a choice.
Begin the new life. One step at a time. Not the life you thought you would have. A different one.
But your life to lead.
I’m not sure how this fits into the Easter story. Maybe it’s because your strength, your morals, your outlook in life, comes because someone was once a significant part of your life.
Your support network might not be physically present.
But it remains in your heart.