By Kathy Fanger
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”-From an Irish headstone
When someone we love has died, we begin a journey that is often frightening, painful and sometimes lonely. No words, written or spoken, can take away the pain we feel. Emotions may change hour-by-hour, day-by-day and often on special occasions. Sometimes, we even find ourselves questioning your faith. To begin to heal, it is helpful to learn about and understand the grief process and how it may affect us today, tomorrow and forever.
Every person grieves differently and there is no time line for grief. Whether you are in your first year or 10th year since your loved one’s death, you will never ‘get over’ your grief, but instead, learn to live with it. If you allow yourself the time and compassion to mourn, and truly work through your grief, you will heal. You will go on to find continued meaning in living and loving, and being grateful to God for the one you loved who changed your life forever.
Members of the community should console the mourners with words of faith and support and with acts of kindness…(OCF, #10)
Many parishes in our Diocese offer Grief/Consolation Support Groups led by trained parish staff and volunteers. Their role is to be a compassionate listener to the grievers, assuring them, “You are not alone. We are here to accompany you in your journey.” They offer a sacred space for grievers to share their feelings and stories. Grievers may speak or simply be quiet and listen. Yet it is often in speaking about a loved one and the personal realities of grief that the healing process begins. Strength and hope are found through prayer, scripture, practical coping strategies and the bonds that form among group members. Groups are safe, supportive and confidential. All are reminded that God loves them and journeys with them, promising that they will see their loved ones again in the kingdom of heaven.
Catholic Cemeteries’ mission embraces the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy: to comfort the sorrowful, visit the sick and dying, and bury the dead. We offer an extensive 12 hour training series for parish staff and volunteers 2-3 times each year on 6 consecutive evenings. Our offerings include Retreat Days for Grievers, Having Faith During Difficult Times, Consolation of Grief during the Holidays, Christmastime Afternoon of Remembrance, All Souls and Monthly Memorial Masses. For more information contact Kathy Fanger at (650) 428-3730 x508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.