Reflections in a Graveyard

The way we express grief changes. Families now often ask mourners to wear bright colours or some symbol of the dead such as a ribbon or a particular flower. Memorials have also changed. I came across some graffiti in Blackburn recently, daubed onto the side of an ill-maintained former church premise. The ‘artist’ is certainly no member of the grammar police, but his grief was real enough. Why he felt the need to record such a piece I know not; had Julie no headstone? Had he no chance to tell her he loved her?


Elsewhere in the county, I came across another grave, seemingly covered in trinkets, models and plastic flowers. At first, I regarded it rather sniffily, until I read it belonged to a young man who had died for Queen and country in Afghanistan. I wept. He left behind a family who still tended his grave, pouring out their sorrow while so doing.


Another stone had a teddy bear carved into it. It was for a little boy who had only lived thirteen days. His broken-hearted parents had spared no expense in having a marker erected befitting his age and status. This family was robbed of its most precious treasure. Another grave had within it a couple and their great-grandson. Death is no respecter of persons, neither of generations. It stalks all, taking elderly and young alike. It is cruel and callous.


At Salterforth cemetery there is a Commonwealth war grave. Another young man had died fighting in the armed forces. It’s dated September 1916. The Military Service Act was passed by parliament in March 1916, requiring all able-bodied males to take up arms against Germany and her allies. Was this young man conscripted into the army to fight in a war he didn’t really believe in? Who knows.

Revelation 20:14 says ‘And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death’. Death itself is destroyed by God. Like the Babylonians before, it is God’s instrument and rod of correction, and yet its cruelty and greed renders it ripe for destruction. Thank God, we have a Saviour who has conquered death. Although we feel its icy fingers tugging at our bodies, our spirits are exempted from its jurisdiction. Death has been defeated- hallelujah!