Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

How My Faith Helps Me With Grieving

I was speaking with a young adult one evening when he received a text informing him of his great-grandfather's passing. I gave my condolences by saying "I'm sorry", which sparked a conversation between the 2 of us. We spoke of what part our faith plays in our grieving.
Two very different passings
Why do people say "I'm sorry" when expressing their condolences, especially in the case of the elderly? I don't know how many people told me that when my father passed away. He was terribly lonely, with my mother passing away almost 3 years earlier. In fact, he was just miserable, he missed her so much. He was ready to go, and had been for several months.  When people told me they were sorry, I responded with, "It's okay. He lived a long, full life. He was ready to be with Mama."
As I thought about writing this post, I came across a passage in Matthew Kelly's book Resisting Happiness. As I read page 62, I thought of my mother: She passed very unexpectedly. We (my siblings and I) expected that she would live the end of her days in a nursing home since she was showing definite signs of dementia. But, as someone pointed out to me, God is a merciful God. He called Mama home before her dementia was such that she didn't know us or Daddy. I had conversations with my father about that same thing. God showed all of us so much mercy by not making us live through that experience.
My father's passing was the total opposite, but again, God showed us all mercy by not allowing his illness to linger. He didn't suffer with his congestive heart failure long: He went into the hospital on Jan. 1 and passed away Feb. 1. That's another reason why I tell people "It's okay".
I miss both of them terribly, but I know I have 2 more people in heaven praying for me and my siblings. They weren't perfect, but they were just about the best parents anyone could pray for, and I can't even begin to tell you how blessed I am that God chose me to be their daughter. That gets me through those times when that hole in my heart seems enormous.
It's not them
After my mother passed, I went to the cemetery with my father pretty regularly, although it dwindled as the months passed. The cemetery is on a very busy highway & I was concerned that he may have an accident. I have to admit that, since his passing, I've only been to their graves a few times. Why? Because that's not them; they aren't there. All that is there is a shell in which their beautiful souls were encased. I don't go to their graves to "talk to them"; I talk to them all the time throughout my day. I don't think about their bodies deteriorating; that's not them.
In the May issue of Magnificat (p. 419), I read the following:
That sums up how my faith helps with grieving. I think flowers are beautiful, especially dogwoods and Bradford Pears, but it seems that the blooms are gone with the blink of an eye. So it is with our loved ones. God places these beautiful people in our lives, and, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it seem like they're gone with the blink of an eye, too? Even if you're fortunate to have them for many years, when you look back it seems to have gone too quickly.
Faith and hope
I was so very fortunate to have had my parents with me for so long, and that they were healthy in mind and body. I'm not going to sugar coat it: There are many tears, and there is a huge hole in my heart where they once were. Their passings give me hope; my faith that they passed to me confirms that hope.
So, when someone tells me she's sorry for my loss, I have to wonder if what she really means is that she is sorry that I'm grieving, because I know my parents are in heaven, smiling down on me, and saying "We did good".


  1. Saying I'm sorry does always seem rather lame. I usually respond that I am sad to learn of (your) loss. This post came at a good time for me. I just learned that my dear blogging friend (who I had met in person) died yesterday after a fairly short battle with brain cancer. Yes, I'm sad. I will be missing Melanie.

  2. Dear Blog Entry Author (Mary Cooper?) Thank you for sharing about your grieving. My parents have both passed away and I have struggled with the very different grieving processes for both of them. I think you are right about the real message behind a person saying they are sorry. Like you, I think they mean they are sorry you are grieving. I like the way Terri D. (prev. comment) phrased it - They are sorry to learn of your loss.

    As for not visiting your parents'"shells" in which their souls were encased. If they have gone to heaven (none of know for sure what another's final judgment is), those shells will be the foundation for their risen and glorified bodies when Jesus comes one final time. I decided awhile ago that that fact alone merits grave side visits from me to the grave sites of those who have passed away. May God bless you. +

    1. I am so sorry I am just now seeing this. What a beautiful comment! I visit the graves on their birthdays, anniversaries of their marriage & deaths, All Souls' Day. We do receive indulgences for visiting the graves of those passed away. I have family members who have not visited at all, but that's their choice.
      Thank you again for reading and commenting!


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