A Season to Remember 

By Sammy Jordan Project Lead Hope for Every Home, HOPE Together UK

The last 18 months will live long in the memory. As we approach Remembrance Sunday is there a missional opportunity to be grasped in taking time to pause, reflect and remember our losses before we head into the festivities of Christmas?
Season of Remembering for Blog

‘Unprecedented’ - perhaps one of the most over used words of the last 18 months. Not normally part of everyday language because something literally has to be unprecedented to use it; but along with words and phrases such as ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘bubbles’ it has become part of our everyday in these far from ‘normal’ times.

The last 18 months have seen restrictions and losses on more levels than we could have anticipated. Yvonne Tulloch from Loss and Hope talks about:
“Uncertainty, anxiety, changes and grief caused by the Covid pandemic. Much has been lost – people, jobs, schooling, freedoms, routines and perhaps even hope.”

Normally the period from All Souls Day on 2 November to Remembrance Sunday, on 14 November this year, is a season of remembering, with special thanksgiving and remembrance services for those who have died over the last year; and then a focus on those who have died during wars on the 11 November. Last year we were in lockdown during this season; but this year perhaps there is an opportunity in this time to pause, reflect, remember and even to lament, before we rush towards Christmas and make up for what we missed last year? Yvonne certainly thinks so,

“This year, the Season of Remembering, from All Souls’ to Remembrance Day, has an added poignancy and there is special need in our communities to pause, reflect and remember. What this looks like will be different in different contexts.”

Loss and Hope blog

That’s why HOPE has created some resources with Loss and HOPE to support a ‘Season to Remember’. Everything from invitations to services and community events, to posters and letters. You can find a range of downloadable and editable resources on our Remembrance webpage here
Hope Together : Remembrance

I’m going to be using them myself. In April 2020 I lost my dad. It wasn’t Covid but it was unexpected and Covid meant I couldn’t say goodbye. My family live in Manchester, I’m on the south coast and Manchester never came out of lockdown so we’ve still not done all the usual things like sorting out Dad’s stuff or even a proper funeral. Grief is never linear, but my experience was that Covid and lockdowns amplified this. By last December, with Christmas looming, I knew I needed to do something to acknowledge and mark Dad’s loss. Restrictions meant I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do, to go to the New Forest where no one would hear and scream loudly, or venture to the sea on a stormy day and scream whilst throwing stones into the sea. I had to stay home and stay local.

tree 1
My local is a new estate on the south coast where I’m a church planter and just someone trying to be good news to their community. I moved in June 2020, two months after Dad died, and immediately noticed that I was not alone; so many people were struggling with loss, three on my street alone. That’s why, on a very wet December day last year, a neighbour and I went out to the communal green space in search of a tree, a memory tree. We tied ribbons to the tree, a red one for my dad (he loved Manchester United) and a pink one for her mum. We posted a photo of the tree on the neighbours’ Facebook page and invited others to join in too. Within a few days there were 20 ribbons!

Tree 2 blog
The ribbons represent people, stories of loss and conversations. A frequent conversation was, ‘when restrictions are over wouldn’t it be good to get together and share our stories?’ So, this is what we are doing, over a cup of tea and a piece of cake in a few days’ time. We’ll share our stories of loss and remember our loved ones together. If, at the end of the conversation, people want to meet again, we will. I’ll also be inviting the group to our community remembering event which I am hosting in church, where we will gather as a community to acknowledge our losses, give thanks and remember together through the reading out of names and the lighting of candles. I’ll be using resources from the website.
In time, perhaps the group might want something more and, together, we might do The Bereavement Journey, also from Loss and Hope.  The Bereavement Journey
The last 18 months have been unprecedented, but we know that God works for good through all things. Finding common ground with others who are grieving, through sharing our stories of loss, has been helpful to me and gives me hope that even in the hard times there are opportunities to share God’s story too.