There is one certainty in life; that is death.

Each one of us is affected by the loss of loved ones during our own lifetime. When we are young, it is often the death of a beloved pet that introduces us to loss and pain. As we get older the loss of friends and loved ones becomes gradually more regular, but no less painful, and we somehow live with these losses.

Living with loss is so hard- each and every day. but we find ways to remember our loved ones; going to the places that were special for them; talking about them with friends and family; and remembering birthdays and anniversaries are tough times. We miss our friends and family.

A good funeral service whether at the crematorium or in church helps us on our journey in bereavement. Sometimes, for many reasons, we are unable to be at the funeral of a loved one. During the pandemic it was a desperately painful experience not to be allowed to be present to say a final farewell; similarly for some where a loved one has chosen a direct unattended cremation.

Churches have always offered a way of remembering those we have lost. Burials with headstones; monuments and plaques inside the church; war memorials; special services during the Remembrance season and All Souls Day in November; flowers placed in churches for an anniversary or lilies at Easter, and the sponsoring of floodlights for the church (which is done in my son’s rural village) are some of the opportunities offered.

The churches of Belton and Burgh Castle are inviting you to attend a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving to be held at All Saints Church in Belton on Thursday 20th July at 7pm. It will be an opportunity to give thanks for the lives of those we miss and where you can take a moment to treasure the memory of your loved one by lighting a candle and placing a stone on the altar. There will be refreshments served afterwards and you are welcome to stay and chat with others who are walking a similar path.

Jesus experienced the loss of a much-loved friend, and the Bible records that “Jesus wept” as he stood at the tomb of his friend. The response of Jesus’ disciples to his death is well recorded in the gospels; they were devastated, fearful and to be found hidden away in the shock of their early grief. We all handle the loss of a loved one in our own way; no person’s grief journey is exactly the same; grief is the price we pay for love. The more we have known love, the sharper the loss when it ends. For Christians, our experience of God’s love and knowing that God is the source of all love is a comfort, and when we are able to remind ourselves that we have returned our loved one to the source of all the love that we have known; and our love continues as we remain open to each other in God’s love, we are strengthened to continue our journey, whatever lies ahead.

I hope that many of you will feel able to accept our invitation to the service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for the Departed on Thursday 20th July. We hope that this may become a valued annual occasion and of help to us all.