A new year has begun, the holidays have come and gone, and we who have known loss and are grieving, wonder about what is next. What will the new year bring to our lives? Will there be continued sadness and the keenly-felt sense of loss? Can there be some reprieve?
As grief unfolds and continues to be experienced, it can lighten in intensity. The mere passing of time, however, will not bring about this outcome. It is the work and the efforts one expends in processing one’s grief that will result in needed healing and peacefulness. Healing leads to the relief of the intense sadness, the missing, and the sense that one couldn’t possibly go on and know happiness without the loved one who has died. None of this happens in rapid fashion none-the-less.
People go through their grieving and healing processes in an individual time frame and in their own personal manner. Short cuts, however, will interrupt the on-going process of healing. Comparing one’s progress with that of another is not helpful. Comparisons preclude the fact that we are all individuals, with our own personal histories and rate of grieving.
We read and learn about some basic ways of moving through grief, but as alluded to, we each have our own manner and time frame for doing that. We’ll take this opportunity to refresh our understanding of the grief process. What can or should one do to pass successfully through it?
First and foremost is the need to accept the fact that sadness and a deep sense of missing will occur after a significant loss. We cry, we talk about the emptiness felt in our lives, and question our own ability to go on without the deceased loved one. We accept the challenges that come our way early on, and rejoice over our successes in assuming unfamiliar or difficult tasks. Also, we look at priorities so we can ascertain what will now be important components of our lives. Family, friends, our health, our religious beliefs, and our God hold precedence for many. We look at difficult feelings like anger, regret, guilt, etc. and speak of them with trusted others so we can eventually let them go. And lastly, but not least of all, we reminisce. We remember the place our deceased loved one held in our lives. We express deep gratitude for the many ways they have touched and enriched our lives by being who they were for us.
It is important to remember that the sad memories of the grief process will be felt on special occasions throughout our whole lives, but the sad, painful memories soften over time. They are not as difficult to experience as they were in the early days and weeks of grieving.
A new year has begun! We can realize that with the healing energy acquired during past months of grieving we are better prepared for new undertakings, new pursuits, and a new future awaiting the “renewed and healed us”.
On November 29th the torch from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City stopped at our parish. We celebrated Mass in Spanish before our guests left to take the torch to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City arriving on Dec 12th.
Sunday, December 24, 2017 Christmas Eve
8:00 AM Mass
9:30 AM Mass
11:30 AM Mass
6:00 PM Mass
10:00 PM Mass with Carols before Mass
Monday, December 25, 2017 Christmas Day
8:00 AM Mass
11:30 AM Mass
1:30 PM Spanish Mass
Confessions are held Monday evenings
Now that the Thanksgiving holidays are upon us, we are drawn by a spirit of gratitude that speaks to us. Too often, however, we look around at our world and our lives, and foremost in our minds is not that which is enriching us and bringing us joy, but rather at that which we have lost. Someone significant to us will not be at our Thanksgiving dinner table. The gathering of family for the holiday weekend makes us keenly aware of the fact that someone very special will be absent for all of the sharing and fun that holiday get-togethers can bring.
We do have a choice about how we can keep the memory of our deceased loved ones alive and with us. This may entail including the missing persons, by name, in our blessing before the Thanksgiving meal. In the toast that may be a part of our meal, the names of our loved ones might also be mentioned. Sharing stories of holidays past will most assuredly have those who are gathered remembering and recalling memories that inevitably include the absent loved ones. These are both memorable, as well as humorous. Before very long, our loved ones’ stories and anecdotes are a part of the conversation. Somber or cautious feelings lighten significantly. Those who have been trying to avoid their own sadness or tears, as well as fearing to provoke sadness in others, may soon be laughing and smiling as everyone shares and reminisces.
It does take a bit of courage to start such sharing, and thus it requires the bravest among us to be the initiators. It is good to recognize that the positive results of the endeavor far outweigh any negative or foreboding feelings one may have in being the “initiator”. I would encourage any or all of the practices that were just suggested because I know that they work.
As indicated earlier, the Thanksgiving holidays invite us to be thankful. Taking some quiet time to consider how the special persons who were a part of our lives have enriched them is important. We have been graced by their presence for varying numbers of years. During that time the memories of who they were for us remain. We remember that they had qualities that we have always admired and would choose to emulate in our own lives. We take the time to thank them for having brought the gift of themselves into our world and into our personal lives.
Thankfulness for those who still remain with us is also very much in order. We share love and support with each other as we gather on special occasions like the holidays. We acknowledge that we are able to heal and move forward in our grief journey because of the love and support of these dear persons.
May our good and gracious God shower His blessings upon each of us as we experience this holiday and the next ones that will soon follow.
Please join us for our Mass of Thanksgiving Thursday, November 23rd at 8:30 a.m.
May you have a blessed and happy day.
Father Jack & Father Canice
In the recent Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese of Washington forgave significant debt, which was owed by Saint Matthias Parish and School. This school year, the Archdiocese has awarded more than $100,000.00 in tuition assistance to our school families, as well as providing professional development for teachers and offering guidance in marketing and fundraising.
In order to partner fully in meeting the needs of our students, I will offer to the school an additional $300.00 of personal support, in addition to my regular offertory. I challenge 99 other parish and school households to join me in this one-time fundraising effort.
Our teachers and staff dedicate themselves to educating our children academically and spiritually. Please join me in supporting this important mission.
In gratitude, Fr. Jack
As we share this Grief Brief (#13), we will look at the concept of change. Grief and the healing it brings will cause our hearts, minds, and souls to change with the changes that can aid us in moving forward with our lives.
Most people, especially those in the middle and latter phases of life, would prefer stability without a lot of change. They seek the “tried and tested” as opposed to innovation. When we grieve, however, change is imposed upon our lives. This occurs not in radical ways that diminish who we are, but in ways that develop new aspects of our person and lives.
Many authors who write about grief, loss, and the grieving process refer to the term “the new normal” which points to the adulterations that grief imposes and must be slowly accepted. As we describe these we learn:
• Grieving requires that a person look at one’s attitude each day that grief is unfolding. Beginning a given day with an attitude of pessimism sets the tone for the whole day. When one is convinced that nothing will go well and that sadness will pervade the whole day, that is exactly how things will play out. Questioning how one can go on without that special person makes going forward more difficult. A special prayer, an inspiring quote, a bit of soft music, or a request to one’s Higher Power for strength can adjust a negative attitude to be a more hopeful one.
• Reviewing one’s priorities while grieving can also lead one to consider needed changes. Formerly, one’s job or status, one’s income and personal pursuits were the major focus, whereas in the world of grief these priorities become less important. What becomes important, however, is one’s faith or spirituality, one’s God, one’s close family, good friends who will support and listen, one’s health, and a life that will bring purpose and meaning once the healing of grief has occurred.
• Going through grief’s emotional pain, loneliness, and sadness provides the opportunity to grow in strength, wisdom, and new insights. When one undertakes what was considered difficult or impossible and succeeds self-confidence is sparked. Navigating through necessary paperwork, finances, garden and household chores decision-making, etc. can challenge feelings of ineptitude and bring a sense of achievement, as well as pride. One also changes and grows as one seeks to discover a sense of purpose and meaning for one’s life. As healing completes the major part of the grief process there is a sensed need to reach out in caring to others in a meaningful way. All of the new pursuits and changes in the lives of grieving people are exactly what their deceased loved ones would wish for them.
As this grief note concludes I would like to inform my readers of an up-coming “Pre-Holiday Workshop” that will be offered at St. Matthias school on the Saturday before Thanksgiving (10 AM – 12 Noon). The session will assist grieving persons to face the holiday season with some degree of ease and grace. All will be welcome to attend.
Parish Social Life Committee
Thanks to all parishioners who participated and contributed to the successful Installation of Fr. Jack as Pastor of St. Matthias Church. A special thanks to all members of the PSLC for hosting another successful event. Our next meeting is Friday, October 6, 2017, at 6:30 PM, in the Hughes Center.
Viewing: St Matthias Church—-Friday, Sep, 22, 2017, 2.00PM to 4.00PM and 6.00PM to 8.00PM
Funeral Mass: St Matthias Church—-Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, 10.00AM
Repast: St Matthias Hughes Center directly after Mass
Cemetery: Resurrection, Clinton, Maryland.
Donation: Make donations to St. Matthias Church in lieu of Flowers
As we face grief and the grieving process it is important to be aware that we are holistic human beings. Consequently, grief will affect the physical, emotional, and spiritual components of who we are.
Persons who ignore the need to grieve may sometimes be alerted by some physical problems that erupt. It is not unusual that chronic physical ailments like back issues, digestive problems, unstable blood pressure or diabetes are exacerbated by the stress of loss. This is so especially when the need to grieve a significant loss is ignored.
In this grief brief we will look at the spiritual part of our being. It is certainly affected and stirred by loss. Persons who have a strong relationship with their God or Higher Power will lean more heavily upon the comfort and strength that that relationship provides. When human strength, expended by grieving, begins to exhaust, there is a turning to the Divine for the help needed to cope and heal in this long, difficult process that we call “grief”.
Some may have the relationship with their Divine Power shaken by the loss. This can occur when prayers have been forthcoming, asking for a cure, a turn-around in the illness, or just more time with the loved one. When that doesn’t happen and death does occur, there may be disappointment and even anger that divine intervention was not available. These outcomes may well be reversed in time as the grieving person comes to realize that divine guidance and help are real needs as one grieves.
Persons who don’t profess adherence to an established religious group, church, or sect may pursue some other source of needed comfort and strength as they grieve. They may turn to a mentor, a wise and admired friend, or to books that have always provided them with inspiration and needed wisdom. Others may explore the spiritual principles that they have upheld throughout their lives to be the roadmap or guide for moving forward in grief
No matter what the source, when spiritual needs are felt, grieving persons can reach for the spiritual guidance and support they need to help them to better cope with their grief and loss.
As mentioned in the last Grief Brief, I would once again like to extend to any persons who have experienced loss and are grieving, the invitation to join the Grief Support Group that is held weekly at St. Matthias the Apostle Parish. The group will resume its weekly sessions on the second Saturday of September (9/9/17) and new members are welcomed. The group meets in the school library (St. Matthias School) at 9 AM. The address is 9475 Annapolis Road in Lanham, MD 20706. If anyone would like more information feel free to contact: Miriam Jacik, the Grief Coordinator at (301) 345-6054.