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Grief and Alleluias.



"And weeping o’er the grave, we make our song,

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"


These words from an ancient prayer are a part of the funeral service in our prayer book. There is a sharp contrast between the image of the mourner at a grave and the shout of Alleluia! I imagine someone bent over with grief and sobbing, the Alleluia coming from their lips, trembling at first and then strengthening with repetition.


My imagination wants to make the scene one where, although the hurt remains at the loss of one loved, so also, the truth of resurrection to eternal life is brought into that utter despair, like the sunrise in the morning.That is just my picture, and I know it is often a lot messier than that.


As we celebrate All Souls day, I know well that grief is not simple, nor linear. No matter how its stages are sometimes laid out as tidily following each other - it does not happen that way. It can be hard to want to proclaim Alleluia!, especially when we are angry with God. Even then, when we have no words, the community of the Church does, and holds onto that fine silken thread of Easter joy for us when we are bowed low.


It seems like a contradiction to sing Alleluia in grief. At the end of the day, what else is there to say, or listen to others saying on our behalf? We believe that Christ is raised from the dead and those who die are raised with Him to eternal life. Alleluia indeed. All Souls day is a time to remember, a time to reflect, a time to continue the work of grief. It is also the time to allow the possibility of Alleluia, even in the darkest and most distant hour.


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