My Godmother was born on Memorial Day – the traditional one.  Thus, I always remember her around this time of the year.  She has been in heaven for many years now, but back in the day when I was growing up, she lived next door with my grandfather.  Their house was always a safe haven when my brother or I had a pressing desire to “get away.”
Our Cub Scout troop always participated in Memorial Day festivities hosted by the American Legion.  First, we would go to the three local cemeteries for a parade followed by a speaker and a ceremony remembering those who had been in the military.  Then we would go to the legion hall for hotdogs, pop, and baseball.  Many years ago, as an adult, I was given the privilege of being the speaker (the hotdogs were as great as ever).  These are very fond memories.
I fear that a new memory of this week was added Tuesday as we heard about the horrendous shootings in Uvalde, Texas.  The Detroit Free reported yesterday that “the massacre took place in one fourth grade classroom.  The killer entered the classroom, locked the door, and started shooting.”  The last I heard 19 children had been killed, along with 2 teachers and the 18-yearold gunman.  And these numbers are expected to increase.
As I reflect upon these three memorial memories, I realize that, though they all are united around a theme off death, each one evokes a different emotion.  Memories of my Aunt Adelia bring out warmth and comfort while Memorial Days with the Legion were times of appreciation and connection.  The shooting at Robb Elementary, however, prompts extreme grief and pity.
The reality is that death – any way one looks at it and no matter what emotion accompanies it – is not natural!  Humans were created in the image of God – and “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Mark 12.27) It is sin that brings death into creation.  And “because all have sinned, and death (comes) through sin, so death has spread to all humans.” (Romans 5.12) This is why we grieve.
However, we do not “grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. … Then, we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4.13-14, 17) This is why Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11.26-26) Yes, “the sting of death is sin” … and a terrible sting it is … “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15.56-57)
But we still grieve.  We grieve when things are not as they should be – when they are not as we want or expect them to be.  The five steps identified years ago by Kubler-Ross are 1) denial; 2) anger; 3) bargaining and blaming; 4) depression, or an overwhelming sense of sad; and 5) acceptance.  I have always defined acceptance as one saying, “While things are not as I want them to be, this is what they are – and they cannot be changed.”  I also agree with those who say that God can move us beyond these five stages to 6) the dawn of new hope; and 7) new and renewed life.  However, it is also important to remember that in some ways the hole will always be there (I sometimes call it scar tissue), and these steps are more of a swirling whirlpool than a straight progression.
The death of one’s child – no matter what the age or the circumstance – is the most difficult.  Today, with the people of Uvalde, our nation is crying and shouting, “This is not how things should be.”  I am sure that those who have received telegrams or visitors from the military with similar news have felt the same way.  And, to a varying degree, the same thing is said whenever a loved one dies … or we experience other disappointments.
Have you ever associated “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17) with this prayer of David: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. … This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. … Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34.4, 6, 8)?  What it means is that we can seek the Lord over the same issue … cry to him for the same reason … as many times and as long as it takes for us to receive his answer.  And while you are doing this, I suggest you add one more promise to your prayer.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. … It will be healing to you to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3.5, 8)
Life is challenging.  The death of loved ones is painful.  Memorial memories are a mixture of smiles and tears.  However, our tombs, like that of our Lord’s, will someday be empty.  “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4.18) … have a great Memorial Day … and remember that all our Memorial Memories are included in the promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8.28)

Memorial Memories