Meaning of Easter: Time to Grieve Before the ‘Resurrection’

By David Daniels, M.D. –
Easter is the season of renewal. But what does this mean in terms of our grieving the loss of loved ones? In the Christian tradition, Easter is the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many Christians believe in the literal truth of this, of the resurrection and of life everlasting. Many Christians and others also believe the account of Jesus’ death but in a symbolic way, as a representation of undying spirit. Thus, Easter is a time both of mourning the passing of loved ones and of rejoicing in their lives. In either event, it is a time to remember our loved ones and recall their profound gifts to us.
To me, a key way to experience Easter is that the passing from this life needs a period of time to grieve and to remember how our hearts ache and are touched. At the core of the sadness embodied in grief is the reminder of our bond of love and care. We need time to grieve. Just as in the instance of Jesus’ death, a period of time was necessary to grieve his passing before the experience of the resurrection or “rising again” could take place and be fully appreciated.
Giving ourselves time to grieve allows us to realize that love and the other higher qualities are immortal or as in remembering Easter are naturally resurrected. Surely at the very least what “rises again” is our inner knowing that our higher qualities especially of faith, hope, and love never die. This we all need not just to remember, but also to know as truth. But first we need the process of grief in order to fully come back to knowing that these qualities are immortal and everlasting present.
Surely when we are receptive, even the young infant provides a vivid example of these gifts of being in the present moment with us without judgment, of radiating joy, and of a shared connection, the gift of love.
When we look upon the memory of our youngest son’s tragic death at age 25, what we remember is his loving spirit, the joy he brought us, and his acceptance of us despite our numerous flaws. He enriches our lives beyond words. For underneath our personality structure with all its trials and tribulations resides the higher qualities.
We just need to give ourselves the gift of allowing these qualities to imbue our lives. But first we must allow ourselves to grieve the physical passing of the love one. Just as in the instance of Jesus, there was a period of grieving before the resurrection. This is my meaning of Easter.
At this time of year, in your own grief, please do give yourself the gift of time to allow in the realization that the essential or higher qualities in the loved ones you miss so dearly do underlie all external manifestations and are permanently present.
Dr. David Daniels, MD is clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medical School, a leading developer of the Enneagram system of nine personality styles, and co-author of The Essential Enneagram (Harper Collins). He also co-developed the outstanding DVD, The Enneagram: Nine Paths to a Productive and Fulfilling Life and The Enneagram in the Workplace. In private practice for more than three decades, David also has taught the Enneagram system at Stanford, in the community, and internationally for 20 years. With Helen Palmer he co-founded the Enneagram Professional Training Program (EPTP) and was a founder of the International Enneagram Association (IEA). He brings his knowledge of the Enneagram to individuals, couples and groups, and to a wide range of applications in clinical practice and the workplace.  He has developed many innovative workshops including the Advanced Training for Therapists, Coaches, Counselors, and Guides with Terry Saracino and Marion Gilbert, The Dynamics of Vital Relationships, Anger and Forgiveness, The Instinctual Subtypes, and Loss and Grief. Visit for additional information.