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Communal Grief: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”*


By Candee Lucas
Catholic Cemeteries

How do we reach out to one another in a communal time of need?
Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Houston, and New York City – what comes to mind when you hear these names? These communities are in a crisis of loss and grief. How may we assist?

As Catholics, we are raised and taught to love one another; look out for one another, but that does not begin to define for us how to respond to a community trauma. How do you put your arms around 500 wounded? How do you hold a whole island in your hand? Cry with them? Help them begin the healing process?
It seems we can do so little, our tears are but a drop in the community ocean of tears. One hand and one heart seem too small. It takes a village and more than that to hold all that grief and despair. Public displays – whether it be a parade of white crosses, prayers during Mass or other tributes, trying to give voice to loss – we attempt to grieve as one.

It reminds us how intertwined we are; how our experiences, lives, loves and losses are so similar, how the trappings of ‘daily life’ cannot separate us into tribes when our core human experiences knit us together.

This is the very reason God chose to walk among us on earth, to share intimately in our suffering. To hold the hands of the sick, to cry with the grieving, to love through it all. How do we then offer a community that same healing love?

Psalm 102 reminds us how those who suffer feel:
1 Lord, hear my prayer.
Listen to my cry for help.
2 Don’t turn your face away from me when I’m in trouble.
Pay attention to me.
When I call out for help, answer me quickly…
4 My strength has dried up like grass.
I even forget to eat my food.
5 I groan out loud because of my suffering…
7 I can’t sleep. I’ve become
like a bird alone on a roof…
9 I eat ashes as my food.
My tears fall into what I’m drinking…
11 The days of my life are like an evening shadow.
I dry up like grass.

But the Psalm ends with this exhortation:
“He will answer the prayer of those who don’t have anything. He won’t say no to their cry for help.”

Think of small ways to offer hope to those who suffer; through hope others might begin to heal. Enter into community with others in whatever way possible. Keep those who suffer in your daily prayers. And do whatever small thing you can to reach out in your community to those in most critical need. Exercise your ‘love’ muscle. The more you use it the stronger it will become.

*Hebrews 10:24-25

Planning a Christian Funeral
November 18 from 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Our Lady of the Rosary Church
3233 Cowper Street, Palo Alto
Presenter: Father Christopher Bennett

The Vigil, the Funeral Mass and the Committal each have distinct purposes in the journey toward healing and wholeness. This workshop will assist you in making choices about your funeral or that of someone close to you. Come with your questions about the liturgies for the Vigil, the Funeral Mass and Committal as well as the services and options offered at our Catholic Cemeteries. For more information, call (650) 428-3730 or cemeteryinfo@dsj.org.