Catholic Church

Grief Support

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. 

 

Breve de Duelo #9

Las Emociones Fuertes del Duelo

Uno de los aspectos difíciles de la aflicción es lidiar con los fuertes sentimientos que surgen durante el proceso de aflicción. Entre los conocidos por la mayoría de los que se quejan, se encuentran: tristeza, soledad, extrañar a la persona perdida, enojo porque ya no son parte de su vida, y culpa por lo que uno cree o debería haberse hecho por el ser querido. La retrospección se vuelve bastante aguda mientras uno está de duelo. La auto-culpa, el arrepentimiento y la culpa son fáciles de seguir.

La ira puede extenderse más allá de sí mismo o del ser querido para enojarse con Dios, quien, después de todo, podría haber ahorrado a la persona por varios años más, brindándole bienestar. La ira hacia el personal médico en nuestro sistema de atención médica también puede surgir cuando creemos que podrían haber hecho un mayor esfuerzo por salvar a la persona o por haber brindado una mejor atención. La ira también puede extenderse a la persona que murió, especialmente si uno siente que el abandono de sí mismo fue un factor causante en una muerte anterior a la deseada.

A medida que surgen los sentimientos, tienen un poder propio que sin duda aumentará si los sentimientos son reprimidos o negados. Mirar los sentimientos y tratar de entender lo que nos están transmitiendo es muy importante. Tomarse el tiempo para ver la realidad de lo que uno siente, hablar sobre esos sentimientos con alguien de confianza o escribirlos les permite escapar de nuestro mundo interior. Por supuesto, este proceso no se puede hacer una sola vez. Los sentimientos surgirán varias veces hasta que se disipen y uno pueda dejarlos ir. Cada vez que surgen sentimientos fuertes durante la aflicción, se requiere un proceso de perdón para que la curación sea necesaria. El perdón se extiende a cualquier persona considerada cómplice en cualquier aspecto de la pérdida. Cuando el perdón de quienquiera, incluido el yo, es difícil de alcanzar, es necesario orar por la capacidad y la fuerza para perdonar. Entonces, la paz puede seguir. Recuerde que aferrarse a la falta de perdón o a cualquiera de los sentimientos fuertes que surgen durante la aflicción también llevará a una carga tóxica indebida de malestar espiritual y emocional e infelicidad que se llevará a lo largo de la vida. Por lo tanto, una palabra de sabiduría es visitar y procesar los sentimientos.

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.

 

Breve de Duelo #8

Mi primer pensamiento al escribir esta próxima nota de duelo, es desearles a ustedes, una feliz Pascua, y una feliz primavera. Que estos acontecimientos te llenen de esperanza y alegría a medida que avanzas en tu viaje de duelo.

Ahora veremos una cosa que podría ayudarnos a avanzar en el dolor. Aprender sobre todos los aspectos de la pena es muy útil para la persona que está pasando por el proceso. Afortunadamente, hay muchos libros maravillosos, artículos y publicaciones periódicas que exploran las muchas facetas de la aflicción. Estos están escritos por profesionales que se han especializado en educación sobre el duelo y asesoramiento sobre el duelo, así como por personas que han recorrido el camino del duelo y eligen compartir sus ideas y experiencias aprendidas. Saber qué nos puede ayudar en nuestro viaje es muy importante.

Nuestras bibliotecas y librerías, así como los artículos en Internet, brindan una gran cantidad de información sobre la pérdida y el sufrimiento de los temas. Hace varias décadas, ninguna de esa información estaba disponible para las personas en duelo, por lo que somos realmente afortunados.

A algunos que están de duelo les puede resultar difícil concentrarse o comprender bien la información sobre el tema del duelo. Esto es así en los primeros meses de duelo cuando hay un fuerte sentimiento de desorden que impregna el ser. Incluso algunos lectores ávidos han perdido esa sensación de comprensión al principio del dolor. Sin embargo, esa maravillosa habilidad para disfrutar de los libros regresará a tiempo. Mientras tanto, es muy útil elegir leer artículos o temas más breves sobre el dolor que puedan ser de interés. Una gran cantidad de educación sobre el dolor de este tipo ocurre en muchos Grupos de Apoyo para el Duelo.

Amigos cariñosos a veces nos ofrecen libros sobre los temas del dolor y la pérdida como una forma de comunicarse con nosotros. Si no está listo para leer esos libros al momento de recibirlos, simplemente déjelos a un lado para una fecha posterior en la que se convertirán en un tesoro para usted.

Por lo tanto, los invito a aprender más sobre el dolor de los libros, publicaciones periódicas y artículos. Te proporcionarán gemas de sabiduría y una mejor comprensión de tu propio sufrimiento.

winter blues

Since the erratic winter months are upon us, perhaps we could look at the topic of the “winter blues”.

Cold gray days, the snow, and the bleak scenes in nature have a way of affecting our mood and emotional lives.  This is especially so when we are also facing personal tragedies, health crises, or the loss of loved ones.

The truth is that experiencing the holiday season (now thankfully over) and the bleakness of the winter months does not necessarily have to be a major problem for us.  There are some things we can do to lighten our spirits and cope a little better.  Here are a few suggestions that can brighten the days and offset the sad, lonely feelings that want to envelope us at this time.

  • Start with your thinking. A positive approach to a new day helps.  Decide early on that there will be something happening today that will make it a “good day”.  Look for that something!  Expect it!  Pray for its blessings!
  • Have an agenda for each day that will hold promising events, enjoyable encounters with others, or places to go, etc. Many or even one will do.
  • Reach out in love and caring to others. A kind word said during a telephone call, a smile or a warm greeting given to a person met, or  a listening ear offered to someone in need, can make the caring happen. As we give in love, love will be received and our spirits, no doubt, will be lifted. 
  • Take some time to reflect not only upon what has been lost and is being grieved, but also upon whom and what we still have left in our lives. This can bring a measure of happiness and peace.
  • At the end of the day be thankful for at least one “happening” that brightened the day and brought warmth to your heart. Be grateful and treasure it.     

So, let the winter months come!  Believe that some happiness can be found, despite whatever may be happening out of doors.                                                                                                               

 

Aligerar Nuestros Espíritus Durante el Invierno

Ya que los meses erráticos de invierno están sobre nosotros, tal vez podríamos ver el tema de los “blues de invierno”.

Los días fríos y grises, la nieve y las escenas sombrías en la naturaleza tienen una manera de afectar nuestro estado de ánimo y nuestra vida emocional. Esto es especialmente cierto cuando también nos enfrentamos a tragedias personales, crisis de salud o la pérdida de seres queridos.

La verdad es que experimentar la temporada de vacaciones (ahora afortunadamente más) y la desolación de los meses de invierno no necesariamente tiene que ser un problema importante para nosotros. Hay algunas cosas que podemos hacer para aligerar nuestros espíritus y enfrentarnos un poco mejor. Aquí hay algunas sugerencias que pueden alegrar los días y contrarrestar los sentimientos tristes y solitarios que desean envolvernos en este momento.

  • Comience con su pensamiento. Un enfoque positivo para un nuevo día ayuda. Decida pronto que sucederá algo hoy que lo convertirá en un “buen día”. ¡Busca ese algo! ¡Esperar algo! ¡Ora por sus bendiciones!
  • Tenga una agenda para cada día que contenga eventos prometedores, encuentros agradables con otros o lugares para ir, etc. Muchos o incluso uno lo hará.
  • Alcanzar el amor y cuidar a los demás. Una palabra amable que se dice durante una llamada telefónica, una sonrisa o un cálido saludo a una persona que se encuentra, o un oído atento que se ofrece a alguien que lo necesita, puede hacer que la atención se haga realidad. A medida que nos entreguemos al amor, el amor será recibido y nuestros espíritus, sin duda, serán levantados.
  • Tómese un tiempo para reflexionar no solo sobre lo que se ha perdido y lo que está sufriendo, sino también sobre quién y que nos queda en nuestras vidas. Esto puede traer una medida de felicidad y paz.
  • Al final del día, agradece al menos un “suceso” que alegró el día y brindó calidez a tu corazón. Sé agradecido y atesóralo.

Entonces, ¡que lleguen los meses de invierno! Cree que se puede encontrar algo de felicidad, a pesar de lo que pueda estar sucediendo en el exterior.

Grief Brief # 5 

The holidays have come and gone, and hopefully, your experience of them was pleasant and gratifying. Being in the presence of family and friends is heart-warming for most grieving persons. It is hoped that you came to enjoy some new traditions that were different, but totally satisfying to all who participated in the holiday celebrations with you.

Now we face the winter months of January to March with their cold, snowy, or dreary days. The changes that have occurred in nature can easily add to the sad or lonely feelings we may be experiencing. Time in-doors during the cold or inclement weather affords us the opportunity to spend some quiet time looking at where we have come in our grief journey or how we are moving forward with our lives. Do we find ourselves having more energy to engage in meaningful activities like exercise, get-togethers with friends, sincere efforts at maintaining health and well-being, as well as engaging in hobbies or pastimes we have enjoyed in the past? These may have been a part of our lives before we were consumed with care-giving activities or the loss itself. Do something nice or something fun that will help in coping with any of the restrictions that Winter places upon us.

It is important to remember that your deceased loved ones would not desire that you remain trapped in the sadness of grief. They would rather wish that you explore ways to live a happy and fulfilling life in the days to come. So, choose to take the winter months to gather new insights and into discovering what can brighten the days and weeks of this new year that is unfolding.

In last month’s grief note we addressed up-coming holidays and how to prepare for them. Well, we have already experienced the 1st of the series. Hopefully, it went better than expected.
Coming on the heels of Thanksgiving are Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza, with New Year’s Day not far behind them. I do hope that none of you succumbed to aloneness and isolation during Thanksgiving and that pattern not be repeated for the holidays to come.

Christmas can be most stressful because of the consumerism that pervades our society. Buying gifts, decorating the home, preparing a suitable feast are all the expected activities. Spare yourself all of these efforts by keeping them as simple as possible. Accept the assistance of family members and friends. Be open to invitations that come your way, but set time limits as to how long you will participate. Also, give yourself the freedom to not accept invitations to gatherings if that is what you need to do this year. Remember, don’t isolate!

Spend some quiet time alone on a given holiday, remembering the wonderful experiences you enjoyed when your loved one was much a part of your life. The rest of your day could be spent with others, if that is what is feasible for you. At a holiday gathering do mention the name of your deceased loved one, either during the prayer shared before the meal or during a toast that is made. Be the initiator of these activities. Don’t hesitate to start a discussion, with the group that has gathered, about holidays past. This is when enjoyable, even funny events happened with your deceased loved one as a part of them. This will lighten everyone’s spirits and will provide younger members of the family a better insight into the person of their deceased loved one.

I wish you love, peace, and joy during the holidays that are ahead of us. May they be peace-filled and marked with loving memories – new ones and old ones, as well.

Grief Briefs Part 3

The holidays are fast approaching and, no doubt, have induced a lot of concern among grieving persons.  Because the holidays of : Thanksgiving,  Hanukka, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years entail a coming together of friends and family, the absence of a significant other who has died is keenly felt.

To manage some of the stress-filled and foreboding thoughts and feelings regarding holiday celebrations it is wise to  approach  each event one by one. Looking at what one will do to prepare for each special occasion requires a peaceful spirit and a practical mindset.  Things this year, and years to come, will be different.  There is a deep absence felt.

Planning ahead in one’s own mind is quite important-“What do I want to do?”, “How do I want events to unfold so that I am comfortable?”  Including family and friends in the planning process is also very necessary.  A rule of thumb is to simplify what is done and how it will be done.  All need to be involved in the planning and the carrying out of the  plans upon which the majority agree. Some will believe that all can go on “just as it used to be”  Not so! Someone will be missing.  What will not and should not change, however, is the coming together of friends and family members to share love and caring

Caring for oneself is a very necessary part of  getting through the holidays with ease and grace.  Consider what will be helpful and healing to you and choose that. Holidays are not a time for the grieving person to be alone or to retreat from all that could bring joy.

To share some of the ideas just discussed, St. Matthias is hosting its annual Pre-Holiday Workshop , to be held on November 19th ( the Saturday before Thanksgiving) from 10 AM to 12 Noon at its school.  All grieving persons and their loved ones are welcomed to attend.

The address is:  St. Matthias School    9475 Annapolis Rd.  Lanham, MD 20770

If you would like more information feel free to contact: Miriam Jacik, the Grief Coordinator  at  (301) 345-6054, or just feel free to join us at the workshop.                                                                                        

The first grief note posted ended with the thought that family and friends can be the sustaining force and a great source of strength  for those who are grieving.  Because the grieving process is long, with some days being more difficult than others a support team is a must.  Members of that team need not entail a multiplicity of persons.  As few as 2 or 3 persons with caring hearts, ears willing to listen when the need arises, and a ready spirit to be there for you will suffice.

Because family members are themselves grieving persons, having trusted friends could be very helpful to form your support team.  It is amazing how friends from one’s past can serve as the needed support persons.  If your support persons have themselves experienced a loss or losses in their lives, this is a plus.  They will be able to readily relate to your experiences.

In selecting your support team members the persons to be avoided are those  who believe that they can “fix you” as you  proceed into the future with your life.  Those who impose suggestions, give what they consider to be wise counsel,  the criticizers, and those who would rush you through your grief are to be eliminated from your list of support persons.

Take enough time to select well, and by all means ask our dear God for the wisdom to know who best will assist you.  Having caring others to accompany you as you grieve, no matter how long the journey takes, is a true gift.  Once you have received the commitment of your support team, be sure to express your gratitude to them periodically for the gift that their presence is to you.

As a follow-up to the information about the on-going Grief Support Group at St. Matthias Church in Lanham, there will be forth-coming grief notes to be shared with you, our readers.

Losses are much a part of each of our lives. Some are smaller losses, others are significant and heart-breaking.

Our smaller losses we experience for a much shorter period of time.  We feel the disappointment, some sadness, or perhaps shed some tears.  In several hours or perhaps in a few days we let go of some of the feelings and expectations we had, and are able to move on to other things in our lives.

Bigger losses, that bring more serious consequences, are those that entail losing a loved one to death or though divorce; losing health through a serious illness; or perhaps losing one’s financial well-being.  The serious consequences include a deep sense of sadness and a feeling of complete disruption of one’s life.  We grieve these losses for weeks, months, or perhaps a year or years. During that time we shed our tears, reminisce what we had, process our deep feelings, and expect healing to occur in time. This is grief, a process we can’t avoid or easily dismiss.  It is a process through which each person must pass despite its difficulty.  The love of family and friends can be our sustaining force.

St. Matthias the Apostle Parish welcomes those who have faced a significant loss to join its on-going Grief Support Group. Participants experience the support and caring of other grieving persons, as well as receive helpful information about grieving and the grief process. Sessions are held every Saturday from 9 – 10:30 AM in the school library.

New members will be integrated into the group beginning with the week of September 24th.
For more information contact: Miriam Jacik MSN, MS Psy, the Group Coordinator at (301) 345-6054. Or you just may feel free to come.

Comments

Miriam is the best of the best. You feel so much better after attending the group sessions.  You can share with the group if you want and hear that you are not alone in your grief process. Just go and see what will happen to you.

Mass Times / Horario de Misas

Saturday Vigil / Vigilia del Sábado
5:00 PM
7:00 PM (en español)
Sunday / Domingo
8:00 AM
9:30 AM
11:30 AM
6:00 PM
Daily Mass Schedule / Misa Diaria
Monday – Saturday / Lunes-Sabado
8:30 AM
Holy Days of Obligation / Días Santos de Obligación
8:30 AM
12:00 PM
7:30 PM
*unless otherwise announced / *A menos que se anuncie algo diferente.

Devotions

Adoration / Adoración
Monday / Lunes 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Confession / Confesiones
Monday / Lunes 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Benediction / Bendición
Monday / Lunes 7:45 PM

Fr Jack’s Challenge