Psychologists have discovered that we are better at remembering the appearance of strangers than our loved ones. With family and friends we recall our total relationship with them better than their physical features. In short, we remember we love them.

People often ask how we can know one another after death. Or when someone suffers a disease like Alzheimer’s, they ask ‘Where has the person I knew gone?’ The answer is related to the psychologists’ discovery. What matters is the relationship, not physical remembering.

When Mary Magdalen comes to the tomb, she doesn’t recognise Jesus and thinks he is the gardener. Only when Jesus calls ‘Mary’ does she recognise him. She doesn’t remember him; he remembers her. When Jesus walks with two disciples on the Emmaus road, they don’t know him. They only recognise him when he breaks bread with them. They don’t remember him; he remembers them.

All remembering and loving come from God. Our personhood is a reflected image of his personal being and love. But we are unique reflections; and although we may forget him, he will never forget us.

So we needn’t fear that when we die we stop being ourselves. Nor does a disease like Alzheimer’s mean someone we love is lost for ever. As Paul puts it, ‘Our real life is hidden with Christ in God’.

So if we ask where someone is who died, or who seems lost in dementia, the answer is: they are where they always were, hidden in the heart of God. Everything we are came from him, is held by him, and loved by him; and he is faithful.

So: When these failing lips grow dumb, And mind and memory flee; When thou shalt in thy kingdom come: Jesu, remember me.