THE BLOG

Easter and Grief: An Inescapable Connection

04/02/2015 12:48 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

2015-03-31-1427762331-1926655-eastereggs.jpgphoto credit: Jarosław Pocztarski

Even if you aren't a religious person or adhere to any particular faith, you can't really escape the whole Easter thing. Our culture is steeped in religious imagery, so these big days on the religious calendar affect you whether or not they align with your personal worldview.

The language of death and resurrection is going to find its way to your ears.

Have you heard the saying "we're Easter people living in a Good Friday world"? The world of sin and violence being Good Friday, and the events in the story of that day. Easter, of course, being the redemption of that day, kicking over the finality of physical death in a big celebration of life.

The truth that is often ignored in this story is what happens on Saturday.

On Saturday of this Easter story, the one they love is dead. It just happened on Friday. They are reeling from the loss.

No one is singing all those hymns about resurrection and rebirth, no one is celebrating the return of anything. No one has any idea there might eventually be anything to celebrate.

Saturday is all about pain.

Those of us in deep pain, we are Saturday people. What comes later, we don't know, and no one does.

Do you know about the Seder tradition of leaving a place set at the table for the prophet Elijah? We have faith in his eventual return at the same time we acknowledge his absence: that he may appear from the spiritual ether at any time does not mask the uneaten food and the un-drunk wine. The empty chair at the table is both lament and expectation. His absence makes a very physical presence.

The presence of love, the presence of grief. The acknowledgment of both -- in fact, welcoming both. Leaving the door open, allowing emptiness a place at the table.

Living through Saturday, with no expectation of return. Flailing and fighting to find your roots in the context of a loving universe, without any true knowledge of what may or may not come in the morning.

For me, this is what this season is about. Elijah's present absence. Being Saturday people. Witnessing the rebirth of so many things, just in the turning of this globe of earth, knowing that not all things grow back.

How about you? Eostara, Passover, Easter -- what does this season mean for you?

Megan Devine is the author of the audiobook "Bearing the Unbearable Life: Practical Tools to Help You Stay in Your Heart & Not Lose Your Mind." She's a licensed clinical counselor, writer and widow. Her Writing Your Grief courses have connected grieving people all around the world, helping them speak the truth about their pain. You can find her at Refuge in Grief, where this post first appeared.