It’s a somber celebration, if that’s not an oxymoron. Many of us find ourselves missing someone on All Saints Day.
Theologically we celebrate the face that loved ones have joined God and are in communion with other saints. We also confirm our belief that we will join them at the heavenly table one day. (Read a full explanation from Presbyterian Missions.) I used to wonder if missing someone on All Saints Day was bad. Because I always do.
When we think of all the “saints” that have gone from our lives, the less faithful—or more honest–part of us wants to lament. “But I’m going to miss him or her! I already miss them!” If the loss is recent, it can even be difficult to hold it together.
In my church, the bulletin contains a list of individuals who have died since the last All Saints Day. Reading the list is like taking a fist into the gut. It contains the names of lovely people who contributed so much to the life of the church. It has names of people who inspired me. When I think of these people–friends, co-workers, and prayer partners and relatives who have died, I miss them.
I’ve come to a couple of realizations about the process of remembering, celebrating and missing someone on All Saints Day.
Feeling Sad is OK
Although you might not think of it as exactly the expression of faith you wanted to express, it’s not far afield. First, it’s normal. To miss someone is to remember them. Feeling sad acknowledges how much you enjoyed that person in your life. It they weren’t so special, perhaps you wouldn’t feel so sad.
Missing Someone on All Saints Day doesn’t Contradict Our Convictions of our Faith
In German there’s an expression that, roughly translated, means “with one laughing eye and one crying eye.” It happens all the time between parents and children. When a child finds the job of their dreams in another state, is admitted into a college, or meets the love of their lives, their parents are genuinely happy for them. They’re also a little sad for themselves. They’re confident they’ll see their child again and confident that their child will be happy and successful.
However, life has irrevocably changed. A part of the parent, call it a selfish part if you want, naturally feels a little sad that a chapter has ended.
There are no rules when it comes to honoring your loved one or ancestor on All Saints Day. Do it your way. Remember, reminisce, or meditate. Look at (or make) a photo album or write a poem. Do whatever feels right to you as you remember someone.