Each week at GriefWorks, children and families gather to support each other through their grief journey. The following is a story about one of these meetings told by GriefWorks Director Larry Barber.
As the circle of eager children and their family members prepared to go into their grief support groups, I asked the group to share any exciting news that was happening in their lives. Seven-year-old Brandon, who always has something exciting to share, stuck his hand up in the air.
“Easter is coming soon!” he shouted with a big smile on his face.
“And why do we celebrate Easter?” I said.
“Because we get candy…and stuffed animals!” Brandon proclaimed.
“That’s right. Sometimes we do get candy and gifts,” I said. “But what else do we celebrate!”
“Fake tattoos!” he shot back. “Sometimes I get fake tattoos!”
“Okay,” I replied. “But what else do we celebrate at Easter?”
Five-year-old Mandy spoke up. “Jesus died on the cross.”
“That’s right,” I said. “And then what happened?”
“God brought Jesus back from the dead!” exclaimed Mandy.
“WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!” Brandon shouted as he threw back his arms and his little body bent backward in protest. “How come Jesus gets to come back from the dead and my Nana doesn’t?” said Brandon as he stared angrily at me. “That’s not fair!!!”
That was certainly not the response I had expected as we talked about the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But honestly, Brandon is not the first person grieving over the death of a loved one who has asked that question. To the mourner missing a loved one, that doesn’t seem fair.
Easter is a joyous time filled with candy, Easter egg hunts and sunrise Easter services speaking of hope and heaven. But for the mourner it can be emotional and sometimes painful.
- Easter activities with an emphasis on family, friends and loved ones can be a reminder of their loss.
- Easter with its focus on death can be a reminder of the hole in their hearts and in their lives.
- Easter with its focus on resurrection and an empty tomb can be a reminder that the casket, urn or vault containing their loved one is still filled.
As children and adults went to their GriefWorks support groups, I leaned down to talk with Brandon. I looked into his sad eyes and said, “You know, Brandon, the same power God used to bring back Jesus from the dead, He is going to use to bring us back from the dead….and our loved ones too.”
“Then I’ll get to see Nana?” Brandon said with a relieved smile.
“Yes, you’ll get to see Nana. And the rest of us will get to see the people that we love that God has been taking care of in Heaven,” I said smiling back.
Remember this Easter to have fun, spend time with the ones you love most, thank Jesus for His sacrifice and celebrate The Empty Tomb—the symbol of all believers’ hope for today and tomorrow.
But remember, too, those who are hurting because of death. Sometimes in the deafening pain of grief it is hard to feel comfort, joy and hope. All they can feel or hear is pain and sadness after the loss. Be with the mourner this Easter. Without preaching or trying to change their grief, share some of your hope from The Empty Tomb.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live… (John 11:25)