A service to grieve the loss of all who have died this year is being held at Ripon Cathedral on All Saints Day, Sunday, 1 November at 3.30pm.
Entitled ‘Fallen Leaves,’ it is a service of commemoration for those who have died not just from COVID-19 but any cause. It will not only be a chance to give thanks for their lives and the devotion of key workers but also, despite the grief, to look for hope for the future.
It will be a time for peaceful reflection with music, readings and meditative prayer in the tranquil surroundings of the quire.
Canon Ailsa Newby, who has organised the service, said: “There is a profound mystery in the cycle of life, death and new life. In the beauty of the cathedral, which over the centuries has seen so much grief, we’ll take a little time to ponder this mystery as we contemplate the dead leaves of autumn and leave with dormant spring bulbs, full of new life and hope.”
Among those who have lost family this year is Tom Ramsden whose father, the Rt. Hon James Ramsden, a former MP for Harrogate and Secretary of State for War, died at his home in High St. Agnesgate, Ripon aged 96 in late March, days after the start of the national lockdown.
Tom said: “My father would have had his ninety seventh birthday on the day of the service so it will be a poignant time for our family. He died not from the coronavirus but peacefully in his sleep. The lockdown, however, meant that we had to have a very small funeral and my sister in South Africa was unable to attend.
“After a death there is normally a gathering of the clans as there was after my mother died in November but the effect of the virus was to leave my brother, Ashley, and me very much in limbo, as it has done to so many bereaved people. I have a good friend who lost his mother to the virus. She was in a care home and he, like many others, was unable to see her.
“That is why I think this service is so important. It will be a gathering of people who have lost loved ones, some of whom will not have been able to commemorate their lives properly. It will be a moment to reflect upon the new ways we are using to comfort one another and to deal with grief and bereavement. It is a time to pray not only for journeying souls but also for all those affected by family loss during the past twelve months.”
On the Monday after the service, a day which the Church keeps as the remembrance of all the departed, there will be a requiem mass in the cathedral at 7.30 pm at which the lay clerks (adult singers in the choir) will sing. All are welcome to either service.
*James Ramsden was in MacMillan’s government as Secretary of State for War and in Alec Douglas-Home’s government as Minister of State for the Army. He is pictured here with his wife, Mrs Juliet Ramsden.