I can remember the days without much trouble, the days that my grandmother and brother died. I can remember where I was when I found out, what else I had done that day, and the conversations I had after. The day of death is a blur of memories that stick with you and the faintest hint of them is enough to pull you back to that day.
But the day after death is a different story. The day after death is when the knowledge of life without your friend or loved one is permanent. The day is rarely memorable and full of a fog of loss, shock, heart-break and disappointment. The world around you seems to carry on as though nothing has changed, but your life has changed. It is this day that grief begins to set in and a new normal begins. It is heavy, empty and grey.
Today, the day between Good Friday & Easter Sunday, is The Day After Death. I can’t help but imagine what it felt like to early Christians. They spent three years following Jesus, watching miracles and expecting him to become an earthly king to change their fates. But then, one night, he was arrested. The next day, their savior was crucified. The next day they work up and their neighbors were rejoicing their lost and going back to life as normal. The weight of disappointment, unmet expectations and fear of death for the disciples was so much they hid from the world. I can’t imagine that any day after death I have experienced compares to what was going on in their hearts and minds that day.
It is tempting for us to mourn on Good Friday and return to normal on Saturday. To shop for candy and pastel church outfits and prepare to show up at church on Sunday looking perfect and pressed and happy. We miss the heaviness and pain this day should mean. Our worlds go on as though nothing has changed.
We know the end of the story so we know that Sunday is coming. We pay homage to Friday but not the pain and grief of the crucifixion. We can see through scripture that Jesus took space for grief even when he knew the end. I think he would want us to honor the Day after Death as much as we honor the death and resurrection. The uncertainty, loss and fog. This day is as much a part of the Easter story as Friday and Sunday. To spend some time reflecting on what our lives would be like without the death and the resurrection. To understand the pain of loss, of being lost. If we don’t allow ourselves to experience that pain, we cannot fully understand and be thankful for the promise and future that comes tomorrow.