You, dear reader, are no doubt involved in moving through a grieving process, or would like to be doing so. You have sustained some significant or personal loss. To fully engage in grieving your loss or losses you probably would want a fuller understanding of what that process entails.
To grieve is to journey through a process that evokes sadness, aloneness, tears, and missing (someone or something important to you), remembering the true worth of who or what was lost, and discovering how to go with one’s life beyond the loss. Perhaps we can now look more closely at each aspect of grieving.
Sadness becomes the companion to one who has lost someone precious to him or her. Sadness can be intense for weeks and months after the loss occurred. Tears very often accompany the sadness and they beg to be released as often as necessary. Tears bring release and relief to the aching heart. They need not be stifled. However, for the person who doesn’t cry or cries very little after a significant loss, there need not be undue concern. He or she is experiencing a keen sense of loss and sadness in a slightly different manner that doesn’t include tears. None-the-less that person is grieving.
Aloneness is felt when a soul-mate, a life companion, and a true friend is lost. In death a connection still exists, but it is more spiritual than physical and tangible . Periods of personal illness or crises of any sort will cause the grieving person to feel more alone than ever, truly sensing the absence of the loved one.
The griever misses intensely the person with whom he or she has shared life and love over many years, or perhaps only a few. Much love and deep caring have been given and received. Thus, there is a sense that much has been lost as a result of the death. Fortunately, there are the memories.
Remembering is an important part of the journey through grief. There are pictures, memories, and mementos to keep the remembering alive for a long time. Hopefully these carry through one’s whole lifetime. In early grief (the first 6-7 months) remembering is hard because it brings forth sadness and tears. But, as weeks and months pass wonderful memories of times shared float into one’s consciousness and in time replace the more painful memories.
As one moves through the grieving process, the sadness, tears, aloneness, and missing (already mentioned) are accompanied by more intense feelings with which one must grapple. They are a part of the grief process and must be looked at and experienced before they can be put to rest.
In time, one must discover how to go on. One looks at how to have renewed purpose and meaning for one’s life. Remembering that this would be the desire of the deceased loved one is important. He or she would want those left behind to have a full, rich, and healthy life for however long it would be. New dreams, new undertakings, health and happiness, as well as expanded relationships are all a part of the wishes and desires they would have for us.
The grief journey is long and hard, but taking it day by day makes it feasible. With the support and caring of friends, family, and our God, it can be successfully undertaken. Healing of body, mind, and spirit will be the expected outcome.
The Parish Social Life Committee would like to thank all parishioners who attended Fr. Milt’s retirement celebration, Sunday, June 4, 2017. Special thanks to volunteers who donated treasure, food, and time to make this occasion a success, and to the Knights of Columbus for their logistical assistance for the event. We are grateful to all members of the PSLC for putting together a great event: Fr. Canice Enyiaka, Debbie Self, Zita Givens, Arlene Taylor, Jackie Bates, Rosario Andres, Evelyn Andres, Myr- tle Reeves, Ramon and Esperanza Lomosbog, Melba Adams, and Thad Ereme.
Grief Brief #9
One of the difficult aspects of grieving is dealing with the strong feelings that emerge during the grief process. Among those known to most grievers are: sadness, loneliness, missing the person lost, anger that they are no longer a part of one’s life, and guilt over what one believes should or could have been done for the loved one. Hindsight becomes quite keen while one is grieving. Self-blame, regret, and guilt easily follow.
Anger may extend beyond self or the loved one to anger at God, who after all, could have spared the person for several more years, giving him or her wellness. Anger at medical personnel in our health care system can also arise when we believe that they could have tried harder to save the person or to have given better care. Anger may also be extended to the person who died, especially if one feels that self-neglect was a causative factor in an earlier than desired death.
As feelings emerge they have a power of their own which will certainly increase if the feelings are repressed or denied. Looking at feelings and trying to understand what they are conveying to us is quite important. Taking the time to see the reality of what one feels, talking about those feelings with a trusted other, or writing them out gives an escape of them from our inner world. Of course this process cannot be done just once. The feelings will emerge several times over until they dissipate and one can let them go.
Whenever strong feelings emerge during grief they require a process of forgiveness for needed healing to follow. Forgiveness is extended to anyone considered to be complicit in any aspects of the loss. When forgiveness of whomever, including self, is hard in coming there is a need to pray for the ability and strength to forgive. Then, peace can follow.
Remember that holding on to unforgiveness or any of the strong feelings that emerge during grief will also lead to an undue toxic burden of spiritual and emotional unrest and unhappiness to be carried throughout one’s life. Therefore, a word of wisdom is to visit and process the feelings.
My first thought in writing this next grief note, is to wish you, the readers, a Happy Easter, A Happy Passover, and a Happy Springtime. May these occurrences fill you with hopefulness and joy as you proceed through your grief journey.
We will now look at one thing that could help us to move forward in grief. Learning about all of the aspects of grief is very helpful to the person who is going through the process. Fortunately, there are many wonderful books, articles, and periodicals that explore the many facets of grieving. These are written by professionals who have specialized in grief education and grief counseling, as well as by persons who have walked the road of grief and choose to share their insights and learned experiences. Knowing what can possibly be of help to us in our journey is quite important.
Our libraries and bookstores, as well as articles on the internet, provide a vast amount of information on the topics loss and grieving. Several decades ago none of that information was available to grieving persons, so we are fortunate indeed.
Some who are grieving may find it difficult to focus on or comprehend well information on the topic of grief. This is so in the early months of grieving when there is a strong sense of dishevelment pervading one’s being. Even some avid readers have lost that sense of comprehension early in grief. That wonderful ability to enjoy books will return in time, however. In the meantime, choosing to read shorter articles or topics on grief that may be of interest is very helpful. A lot of grief education of this type occurs in many Grief Support Groups.
Caring friends will sometimes offer us books on the topics of grief and loss as a way of reaching out to us. If you are not ready to read those books at the time they are received, just put them aside for a later date when they will become a treasure to you.
So, I invite you to learn more about grief from books, periodicals, and articles. They will provide you with gems of wisdom and a better understanding of your own grieving.
A memorial Mass will be held at St. Matthias Church on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. for Pablo Alano. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Matthias the Apostle Church for Elijah Alexander on Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. Interment at Fort Lincoln Cemetery.
Viewing Friday, April 21, from 6:00-9:00 PM at Gasch’s Funeral Home, 4739 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20781
Please join us for a Lenten Penance Service at St. Matthias Church on Monday, March 27th at 7:00 PM. Regularly scheduled adoration will begin at 6:00 PM, with the Penance Service following at 7:00 PM. There will be NO Benediction at 8:00 PM.
Grief Brief # 7
This grief note will invite us to focus on multiple losses that we might face as we grieve. These can occur under three separate circumstances. We will consider each of them.
When we lose a significant other we focus primarily upon the loss of an important person in our lives. Our grief can be centered solely upon the loss of that person. Yet, there are many other secondary losses that are connected with our principle loss. Here is how that happens.
Having lost a spouse, we soon recognize that we have perhaps lost a partner, a soul-mate, a friend. We miss the planning, discussing, and decision-making we may have done jointly. Many responsibilities carried during our lives together by the absent partner are now solely ours, whether we are ready for them or not.
When a child dies, no matter what his or her age may be, we feel the loss of being a guiding and caring parent. We feel that we have been robbed of sharing the dreams, pursuits, or the special events like graduations, weddings, job promotions etc. that could have occurred in that child’s life.
When losing a friend, we miss the special sharing and companionship that was ours. Many a life secret or plan was shared with that person who is now absent from our lives.
These added losses, although sometimes discounted, can add to the burden of grief and mourning that a person can experience.
Another aspect of multiple losses takes into account personal tragedies or crises we may face along with the primary loss. These multiple losses can include: a serious illness that befalls us or a person in our family; some grave misfortune that has come to the life of a friend or family member like serious financial troubles, the loss of a job, an accident, etc. Included in this list are the losses that are consequences of natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, or the like. In all of these circumstances our primary grief, surrounding the loss of a deceased loved one, must sometimes be placed on hold temporarily until the new imposing situations are handled. We will grieve for our lost loved one, but only after the crises or significant problems are dealt with and somewhat resolved.
A third aspect of multiple losses weighs upon us when people we have known and cared about for years begin to die. The causes may be aging, illness, catastrophic occurrences that involve many people (ex.9/11, a significant flood), or acts of violence like shootings, stabbings, riots, accidents, suicides, etc. There is a need to choose well how many of these circumstances will call forth our concern, compassion, and personal caring. The burden of our own grieving process will limit the amount of emotional energy that we can invest in any of these circumstances. When we have grieved and healed adequately, we will have the emotional strength and stamina to get more fully involved in caring and reaching out to others.
Thus we see, from what has been described, that grieving can be multi-faceted. Choosing well where our focus, our attention, and energies are placed is very important so that our own healing is not unduly interrupted. The call is to care for our own grieving selves so that we in time may be able to reach out to others in a loving and caring way.
Joseph P. Makowski, long time parishioner, died Thursday, March 9, 2017, after a long illness. A Memorial Mass is scheduled for 1:00 PM on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at St. Matthias the Apostle Church, 9475 Annapolis Rd., Lanham, MD 20706. The family will receive visitors from 12:00 – 1:00 PM before the Mass.
Bill Cooper, a long time parishioner, died last week. There will be a viewing at Saint Matthias Church on Tuesday, March 7th, from 10:00-11:00 AM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM, followed by a burial at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Crownsville, MD, Please keep the family in your prayers.