By Larry Peterson
Some words from a Catholic man about grief and bereavement
We say many “comforting” things to people in “mourning.” Still, I have discovered that for those who are in a “mournful” state, comforting them sometimes is not possible. Many have what is akin to a deep, open wound that is extremely painful. For many, the healing and scarring process takes a long time. The scar formed is always there to remind us of what was.
From the CCC 989: We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death, the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ, and He will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like His own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity.
Oh yes, we know all these things. We indeed say that we believe these things. Every Sunday, we profess our faith out loud and in public, saying, “and on the third day, He arose again.”.
As Catholic/Christians, our faith has comforted us during our lives. The belief that death is only a transition to a world filled with perfect happiness is instilled in us. We shall be sharing our heavenly world with Jesus, the Blessed Mother, angels, saints, and loved ones gone before us. There will be no more pain and suffering, no illness, and nothing negative. Shouldn’t we be jumping up and down with joy? Unfortunately, “tomorrow” now has a permanent hole in it, and we have no idea how to fill it.
Victims of Adam and Eve’s original sin
We are human beings after all. We are also victims of Adam and Eve’s original sin. This is the sin that brought us illness and death. This is the reason for our grief. This is the reason for our pain and suffering. This is the reason for “bereavement,” which means “deprivation” or to have “suffered a loss”.
“Big Boys don’t cry”
Having these feelings is “normal”. As a man, I have tried to stifle any outward display of emotion in public. (That is how we were raised—Big boys don’t cry—well, real men do.). At home, who cares. No one is there to see my crumblings. After my wife’s funeral a few years ago I did fail miserably at Walmart. It was several days after her funeral and I had gone there to get a few things. I noticed that there were no customers in the cell-phone section I needed a memory chip for my phone so I asked the clerk where they were. He pointed them out and I grabbed a new chip and handed it to him.
He offered to put it in the phone and transfer my photos into it. He opened the picture file and there is my wife smiling at me. I lost it and morphed into a babbling spectacle at, of all places, Walmart. A nice little crowd gathered for my impromptu performance but kept their distance. Hey, I might have been a lunatic or an old terrorist…whatever. You get the picture (pun intended). I was told by the facilitator of a bereavement group that my reaction was perfectly normal. Maybe it was, but I sure was embarrassed
We come face to face with a journey we all must take
The point is, as Catholic/Christians, we all witness death during our lives. And we should remember that seeing death brings us face to face with a journey we all must make. Grief is an internal process, and everyone experiences it in their own unique way. We all know of the resurrection and the reward of eternal life. However, it can be tough to deal with when you get hit with the personal impact of a loved one’s death and the grief that instantly explodes inside you.
What she did for all of us is indescribable
Time and prayer help heal those deep wounds. The days come and go and it does happen. We are mortal humans. We must feel the pain. Imagine how our Blessed Mother felt watching them torture and kill her Son? What she did for all of us is indescribable.
From CCC 991: belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.”
We should never forget this.Do not be afraid —the Eternal Now awaits us all. It will be a wondrous place indeed.
Copyright©Larry Peterson 2023