The sights and smells of fall are upon us. We are witnesses to the wonders of our natural world as farmers begin harvesting that which was sown earlier in the year. All that hard work performed in planting the seeds and nurturing the growing plants, leads to the joy of a bountiful harvest. God’s gift of this world is an amazing thing to experience. We see this gift in the relationships that we grow with each other.
Our senses allow us to enjoy more fully the bounty of persons we are connected to as we plant the seeds of each relationship. We nurture those relationships over time and treasure the harvest of our experiences. Sometimes, the seed that is planted sprouts quickly and the time to harvest is short, but the sweetness of the fruit remains.
It is often difficult for us to comprehend why the gift of life in some circumstances may last for a very short amount of time. In one instance, the joy ended before we met. For another close to me, the joy lasted 11 minutes. The profound impact that those short lives had on us continue and it is up to each of us to harvest the beauty of that life sown by God and part of the harvest that is Heaven.
I know the impact those 11 minutes had on me over 20 years ago and have learned to appreciate the harvest of eternal life through the short life of a little angel. Whether it is 11 minutes, 14 years or 104, each life is sown by God and it is up to each of us to nurture that seed and harvest every moment until the final harvest of eternal life.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
Although autumn officially begins on Wednesday, September 22, it is safe to say that fall, defined as the season between summer and winter, has arrived. September has brought us the splendor of fall leaves, bountiful harvests, cooler weather, students returning to school, Friday Night lights, and … plenty of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!
If we are talking about the many reasons why September is so great, we need to add one more reason to the mix. My hope is that by the time you finish reading this blog, and after you have clicked a few links and read the information, you will feel empowered and more confident about starting a conversation with a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance. And this isn’t just any conversation. No, it’s a conversation regarding a topic that was once considered too taboo to mention, and usually involved people whispering. Now, there is a worldwide effort to bring awareness, action and support services to affect change and save lives. September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Organizations in the US and around the world are raising awareness on suicide prevention. This worldwide initiative is one that will de-stigmatize the topic of suicide and challenge all of us to make a difference in someone’s life, simply by having the compassion to ask, to listen, to give support and to stay connected.
The current year is a time where many of us are feeling extra anxious or troubled. Undoubtedly, the anxiety is exacerbated by following 24/7 news or social media outlets. With all the craziness in our world right now, it is even more important for mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members to unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. We need to spread the word that if someone is in crisis, there are many options available to help them cope. Just starting the conversation and asking “Are you OK? Are you really, OK?” is a small, but compassionate effort that could save a life. Reach out to organizations such as Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is available confidentially and 24/7 for everyone in the United States at 1-800-273-8255. To know the risk factors and to learn more about the warning signs, visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Healing, hope and help can happen. Suicide is preventable for everyone. By starting the conversation, listening without judgement, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicide and save lives.
Catholic Cemeteries Association provides services to those who are struggling with grief due to the loss of a loved one. This month, our September 2021 Bereavement Bulletin highlights the topic of Suicide Prevention and Awareness and can be accessed on the website www.clecem.org under the Information tab- Bereavement-Grief Support Newsletter, or by clicking here:
Also- to learn more about the signs of depression and how to help a loved one dealing with depression, read our blog:
“3 Things to Keep In Mind if You or A Loved one may be Battling Depression”- Click Here.
For more information or ideas on how to take action to help prevent suicide- Click Here.
Thank you for doing your part to start the conversation, and to help bring awareness to suicide prevention and ultimately, to save lives.
Post written by Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, Marketing and Communications Manager
Love is a word said without hesitation when we are with someone that we hold deep in our heart. It is a word, an emotion, a devotion, and a sacrifice. The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and when I look to the Blessed Mother, what I see is love. Mary so loved God that she accepted without question her motherhood and in her humanity, she touches each of us. Her love for God is seen in the fire surrounding her Immaculate Heart and we see her love for Jesus in the sword which shows to each of us the pain of watching her beloved Son tortured and nailed to a cross.
We often see Mary through the many artists’ depictions. Whether it is the Assumption, the Pieta or the many statues placed so reverently in our Catholic churches, we see the Mother of God. Just for a moment I ask each of you to see her as a mom, raising a son and hoping as parents do, that He find happiness in life. This mom was destined to watch her Son travel a different path, one that ended in her at the foot of a cross. Her sacrifice, and willingness to accept God’s plan is an example of pure love.
Each of us suffers the loss of someone we love, but the beauty of love is that it does not die. Love continues in our hearts and in our memories shared with the person who is no longer physically with us. Most importantly, love keeps us connected until the time that we are reunited in paradise. Our Blessed Mother’s love and her humanity connect us to her and through Jesus we are shown God’s love for us. The path to paradise is clear and love is the key.
August is often referred to as a time of transition. We enjoy the summer days of outdoor activities, relaxation, and a change in our routines. Vacations bring us an opportunity to refresh our outlook and to nurture our relationships with family and friends before students return to their learning. Sometimes we allow the change of pace to alter our routines a bit too much, especially with regards to our spiritual health. It takes courage and perseverance to keep our spiritual lives intact and vibrant, especially when recovering from the grief endured when we lose a loved one.
During August, in the Church, we are given many opportunities and examples to refresh and re-ignite our faith. The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The many feasts of saints and martyrs during August, combined with parish celebrations and festivals highlight the courage and perseverance of martyrs, the founders of religious organizations, popes, kings, and several Doctors of the Church. On August 8th , thousands of the faithful celebrated with food, music and the celebration of Mass together at The Fest. This year, The Fest theme “Take Courage” was highlighted by Bishop Malesic. For many who are suffering from the loss of a loved one, finding the courage to remain strong in faith is difficult. For others, a strong faith is the only thing that keeps them going.
No one gives a better example of drawing on her faith when facing life’s uncertainties than Mary. Mary is the most perfect example of Christian perseverance and courage. The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated August 15th, is always a reminder to us of God’s promise of the Redemption. We pray to Mary as our advocate and celebrate her being crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth (August 22). The Memorare of St. Bernard (August 20) states that “No one who has fled to her protection is left unaided.” Praying the Rosary is another way to seek Mary’s intercession in our lives and to ask for the strength to be courageous.
As we begin to transition from summer and move through August, let us take the necessary time to reflect on Mary’s life and the lives of the many spiritual leaders in our faith whose examples give us a roadmap on how to “Take Courage”. I, along with all of us at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, wish you peace, perseverance, and courage as you travel your life’s journey, especially during times of loss.
Nearly one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and depression is one of the most common. With the considerable rise of depression rates due to COVID-19, mental health awareness is becoming increasingly imperative. It’s important to be able to understand and recognize the symptoms of depression and know where to turn for help. Also, it can be helpful to be aware that depression may not look the same in everyone.
1. Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression
Whether you or a loved one may be battling depression, being familiar with the warning signs is a necessary step in the right direction to recovery. Although depression looks different in everyone, some of the most common symptoms are:
Feelings of prolonged sadness and emptiness
Being easily frustrated or irritable
Eating too much or too little
Extreme lack of energy
Sleeping too much or too little
Loss of interest in most activities, especially those you used to enjoy
Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
Frequent or recurrent suicidal thoughts
It’s important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms now and then doesn’t necessarily correlate to a mental illness. Determining a diagnosis depends on the severity and duration of these symptoms, as well as how much they interfere with daily activities. If you or a loved one thinks they are depressed, it may be beneficial to consult a professional.
2. Be Aware that Depression Looks Different in Everyone
Depression is a tricky disease. It doesn’t look the same in everyone, and some depressed people are more functional than others. Since some symptoms may be more severe than others, you shouldn’t compare one person’s mental illness to another. You may never know that a loved one is struggling with depression just by looking at them. Some don’t even know that they, themselves, are struggling with depression. In fact, it is common for people to try to convince themselves that they aren’t depressed, or that the way they feel is normal and they are overreacting. This is normal for people battling with mental illness: they may be in denial. But, the first step in recovering from a mental illness is recognizing and accepting it. The next step is reaching out for help.
3. Know Where to Turn for Help
Turning to someone for help is one of the most significant things you can do while battling a mental illness. Most importantly, if you think you are going to hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately for help. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you think you might be struggling with depression, make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible. It may be hard to reach out for help, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. You do not need to go through this alone, and there are people who care about you and support you. If you aren’t comfortable seeking treatment or professional advice right away, consider talking to a friend, a loved one, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. Recovering from depression can be a demanding commitment, but once you choose hope, anything is possible.