I experienced attending a funeral on YouTube for the first time last week. My wife and I reflected on the oddness of the experience. We sat on the sofa, each holding one of our young baby daughters, and opened the laptop to watch. The service was lovely; people shared beautiful words and funny stories. We were pleased we could watch virtually, yet it didn’t feel quite right.

The last year has been permeated with challenges for us all. We’ve all faced pressures as we’ve lived through the uncertainty of three lockdowns brought on by the global pandemic. The daily death rate has been a constant reminder of our own mortality. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost loved ones. Grief has been a thread through so many of our stories.

Recently we’ve watched the Marvel series WandaVision. Let me first say, spoiler alert, so don’t read on if you don’t want to know important aspects of the plot. The premise of WandaVision is that Wanda, who is part of the fictional team of superheroes called The Avengers, has experienced the traumatic death of her fellow Avenger, Vision, who she loved. Rather than face the reality of her pain and suffering, Wanda creates the world she wants, including the family she longed to have. She creates a forcefield over the town of Westview and appears to be controlling everyone to ensure she has the life she wanted, which had been taken away from her.

While I don’t have superpowers like Wanda, at times I’ve created my own bubble away from painful situations. It’s much easier to binge on Netflix, watch football, buy stuff I don’t need or lose hours scrolling on social media. We have a powerful world at our fingertips that allows us to temporarily escape our challenges. WandaVision gives insight into what it means to be human in the face of grief. At the beginning of the series, the audience are led to think that Wanda’s plan has worked. But it takes one key character to see past Wanda’s outward appearance.


That character is Monica Rambeau. She has recently discovered that her mother has died; she knows the pain of loss. Monica risks her life multiple times to reach out to Wanda in her grief. Wanda rejects her offer of help and yet Monica says: I know what Wanda’s feeling and I won’t stop until I help her.” Monica is willing to risk her life for Wanda because she knows her pain.

No one is immune from pain and suffering in life. It’s part of being human. At Easter, we remember that Jesus lived a perfect human life, yet it resulted in His death on a cross. But His death was not pointless. Jesus said yes” to what His Father was asking him to do and because of His death on the cross we can be brought into life.

I can easily fall into the trap of thinking that becoming more human is about creating my own bubble, just like Wanda. Chasing after the perfect life’ that I’m subtly being sold. In contrast, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection teaches me that becoming more human is about living more like Monica. Making courageous decisions to reach out to people in pain. Drawing on my own experience of grief to comfort those who are struggling.

For me, that is part of the beauty and honesty of the Christian story of what it means to be human. It’s honest, because there is an acknowledgement that life can and will be hard. It’s beautiful, because our pain is not pointless. As we follow Jesus on His narrow road, we can trust that God’s Spirit will work through our pain to bring comfort and reassurance to those around us. Death has lost its sting.

"The Christian story of what it means to be human is honest, because there is an acknowledgement that life can and will be hard. It’s also beautiful, because our pain is not pointless."