Stop and Smell the Roses: Three Simple and Nourishing Activities for the Bereaved

After losing a loved one, it’s common to feel disconnected and unattached to reality. Your life may appear to be blurry, as the sights, smells, and noises that were once so familiar now seem very foreign. Since losing a loved one is a traumatic and life changing experience, this type of emotional reaction is completely normal. Your world has shifted, so it makes sense that the way you interact with the world would also change.

However, as normal as these emotions may be, allowing yourself to sink fully into numbness can prevent you from having a healthy grief journey. It’s very important that you reconnect with your senses. Don’t just wander through each day, but embrace every part of it. Use your senses to ground yourself in reality. You’ll find that doing so can bring you great peace and comfort.

This type of lifestyle is easier said than done; however, there are some things you can do to help encourage the full appreciation and acknowledgement of your senses. Keep reading to learn more.

Stop to Smell the Roses - blog

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing has long been known as a soothing exercise. Something about feeling the air enter and escape your body in controlled breaths is a reminder that God is always surrounding you—literally giving you what you need to survive. Feeling your chest move up and down reconnects you with your body and proves how complex and intricate God designed you to be. Breathing also engages your sense of smell. Whether you’re breathing in the familiar scent of your home living room or taking in the fresh outdoor air, taking time to stop and actually notice the smells around you can help place you in a given location and envelope you in comfort and familiarity.


Finding Color

While grieving, the world can seem like it’s painted in black and white, both literally and figuratively. When you have a quiet moment, look around you and try to find five different colors. Doing so can remind you of the variety and excitement God has granted you here on earth. Maybe it’s the green leaves on the tree in your front yard, or the deep brown oak of the door in your bedroom. Whatever the case, finding different and exciting colors around you is not only a fun and interesting exercise, but a nurturing way to tap into your sense of sight.


Taking Pauses

The best way to truly connect with your senses and reconnect with Christ is to simply take time to pause. When you see something beautiful, stop what you’re doing and really experience it. God gives us precious moments—don’t ignore them! It might be a beautiful morning sunset, the smell of your favorite homemade meal, or the sound of rain against your bedroom window at night. These moments will vary person to person, day to day. It’s up to each and every one of us to find these soft and gentle messages from God and spend time in His presence.

While these are just three simple activities, there are countless ways to fully experience life and live through your senses. Find something that works for you. Find something that can serve as a reminder of God’s presence and love. While there may be trials and times of sorrow in our lives, God is always asking us to stop for a moment, acknowledge His presence, and smell the roses.


Post written by Katie Karpinski

Saint Josephine Bakhita: Trusting in God’s Unpredictable Path

Many saints are known for their harrowing and unbelievable stories. For many, converting to Christianity and finding Christ was not a straight and narrow path. Rather, the road to sainthood and Christ is often paved with complexity, ambiguity, and challenges. For Josephine Bakhita, this path was also paved with great personal suffering. While not often discussed, St. Josephine’s story is truly inspiring. When one learns about her life prior to Christ and the atrocities committed against her, it would be understandable to assume she never would put faith in God. However, just the opposite is true. Keep reading to learn more about this holy woman and her unconventional path to Christ.

saint josephine

Josephine was born in 1869 in Sudan. Her uncle was the chief of the Daju tribe, placing Josephine and her family in a very comfortable position. That being said, Josephine had a very happy childhood at the start. However, at the young age of eight, Josephine was kidnapped by local slave traders. Taken from the comfort and love of her family, Josephine was forced to walk hundreds of miles to various slave trade markets. This marked the beginning of the 12 year period she would be a slave.

During this time, she was traded to dozens of families. Because of her rapid transfers, it’s been said that Josephine forgot her actual name. While some of her owners were kinder than others, Josephine suffered through several awful households.

One owner was especially cruel. He was a Turkish general who bought Josephine to be a maid for his wife. This mistress made it her intention to hurt Josephine in as many ways as possible. The mistress would trace patterns on Josephine’s back, then carve into these patterns with a knife, rubbing in salt soon after to ensure the carvings scarred. In her writings, Josephine states that as soon as one wound healed, they would open another one. In the end, Josephine accumulated over 113 scars from this household. Just when Josephine believed she couldn’t bear any more suffering, she was traded to a kinder owner. The year was now 1883, and Josephine traveled with her new owner across the Red Sea to Italy. This owner did not beat her. In fact, when the owner (an Italian consulate) had business in Sudan, instead of bringing Josephine with him for the rough journey, he placed her in the care of the Canossian Sisters of Venice.

During her time with the sisters, Josephine learned more about God. While she had heard of God and His creation of the Universe before, she had no personal or intimate relationship with Him. As she began to learn more and more, she developed a deep love for Christ. This led to her ultimate discernment of religious life. There was, however, a problem. When Josephine’s master returned, he still claimed ownership of her, and demanded that she leave the convent and return home to work. She resisted these demands, and with the help of the sisters was able to file a formal case against him. As it turned out, slavery was illegal in Sudan at the time of Josephine’s kidnapping. Therefore, Josephine was a free woman.

Josephine stayed with the sisters. She was baptized on January 9, 1890 with the name Josephine Margaret Fortunata. Fortunata is the Latin version of her birth name Bakhita. She became a Novice with the Canossian Daughters of Charity in 1893 and she took her final vows in 1896. She stayed with the sisters throughout the rest of her life, helping as a cook and doorkeeper within the convent. She also traveled and prepared other convents for missionary work in Africa.

Josephine was known for her very kind and gentle nature. Even after enduring a life filled with such hardship and great physical and emotional anguish, she found the courage to publicly thank her kidnappers for ultimately bringing her to Christ. While there are few documented miracles attributed to Josephine, the Italian village of Schio claims to have been under her protection during World War II. While the village was severely bombed, not a single person died.

Toward the end of her life, Josephine was confined to a wheel chair. Despite this hindrance, she still maintained her joyful demeanor, simply saying her life was “as the heavenly Master desires.” She would pass away on February 8, 1947. In 1992 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and she was canonized in 2000, also by Pope John Paul II.

Josephine’s story truly highlights that the road to Christ is often filled with trials and sorrows. Sometimes in order to grow closer to Him, we must understand to some extent the pain and suffering He endured on the cross. It is also by living through this pain and finding Christ in spite of it that we can truly appreciate the gifts and blessings He bestows on us all. If you find yourself struggling with sorrow in your life, say a quick prayer to Saint Josephine. As someone who endured such suffering, she may offer help, guidance, and comfort during our most difficult times here on earth.

Information gathered from: 

Post written by Katie Karpinski


Grief’s Gentle Journey: One Foot in Front of the Other

After losing a loved one, grief may feel like something that needs to be conquered or overcome. However, grief is not an obstacle– it’s a journey that we embark on with the company of our Heavenly Father. Just like any journey, while grieving you will experience ups and downs, trials and successes. God offers us all the strength and guidance to continue moving forward—especially in times when it seems most difficult.

While grief is specific to everyone, here are some suggestions to progress forward in a healthy way. Keep reading to learn more.

Griefs Gentle Journey (Jan 19 Bereavement)

Have a growth-mindset

Losing a loved one can make the whole world seem finite and fixed. You may feel like your fate is set and that you will never feel truly happy again. Instead of diving deeper into this fixed perception—try to have a growth mindset. Grief is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. You will not always feel hopeless and downtrodden. Rather, if you focus on small improvements and constant progress, you will find yourself more accepting and open to what God has planned for you in your life. God has lessons in store for us in each step of our grief. Try to learn as much as you can, and don’t rush through your feelings. Rushing means you are missing valuable lessons. Pace is not important for grief.

Celebrate small successes

Grief is an experience completely specialized to the individual and the situation. The way you and other members of your family mourn the loss of a loved one will be different. Similarly, the way you grieve will depend on your relationship with your departed loved one. The way you mourn for a parent will be different than how you mourn for a spouse or sibling. Therefore, you should never measure your grief progress to that of others or even your past self. Instead, you should focus on small successes and steps toward improvement for you personally. For some people, these steps can be as small as going outside for a few extra minutes each day. For others, steps can be as large as visiting your loved one’s grave for the first time. Whatever the case, find some steps you can personally take and celebrate yourself for these small improvements.

Spend time in prayer

The best step anyone can take in progressing along their grief journey is spending extra time in prayer. This prayer doesn’t need to be traditional prayer either. It can be starting a prayer journal or reading a devotional book. While these are just a couple of examples, find a form of prayer that works for you. Keeping close to God during your most difficult times will help you stay on track. Communicating with Him and listening to His gentle voice during prayer can help direct you to your next step and offer you comfort and peace throughout the journey. By truly listening to God and communicating with Him on a daily basis, you may come to better understand how your grief can lead you closer to Him and His eternal salvation. While hard to comprehend at times, death is part of God’s master plan.

Are you interested in joining a grief support group? Available at a variety of cemetery locations, our support groups meet once a month. Please come and join a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences, helping each other through prayer, shared stories, and grief recovery discussions. Click here to learn more.

Post written by Katie Karpinski



Fourth Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-45  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel is one many of us are familiar with. Mary travels to visit with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The joy and faith shared between these two women is truly remarkable, as they both possess unwavering faith in Christ. Whether it’s Elizabeth’s faith that God would grant her a son in her old age, or Mary’s trust that God will guide her throughout the very controversial and unconventional nature of her pregnancy, both woman understand that God has a specific plan for each of them. Neither question His reasoning or methods. Rather, they rejoice together in the fact that they are playing active parts in the coming of Christ.

Sometimes on this earth we are placed in confusing and disheartening situations. It can be hard to look past these trials to understand that God has a wonderful plan in store for each and every one of us. As we celebrate Christmas and enter the New Year, let us all look to Elizabeth and Mary as role models of faith. Like them, we may not always know why or how God’s plan will work out, but we must trust in God and find moments of joy along the way.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The Third Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18

 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

Third Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel reading provides us a glimpse of the teachings of John the Baptist. Imagine that you are sitting on the banks of the Jordan River. You’ve been hearing rumors that the Messiah is coming. Many people believe that this man, John the Baptist, is the Messiah. However, as you listen to him preach you understand that the Messiah is yet to come. Your heart may sink for a moment, knowing that you have not yet encountered the Messiah, but there is still some hope that remains, knowing that His arrival is imminent.

In many ways, we are all still followers sitting at the edge of a river. As we near Christmas Day, we grow more and more excited for the arrival of Christ. However, unlike those people who sat at the Jordan River those thousands of years ago, we are blessed to have Christ with us already. None of us alive today have lived without Christ. We have the comfort and peace of knowing that He has come and that He has saved us. Sometimes we forget who blessed we truly are, and take His earthly presence for granted.

This year, let us all anticipate and prepare for Christ just as our ancestors did on the River Jordan. Let us not forget that the same Christ that arrived 2000 years ago is the same Christ that encounters each one of us today.


Post written by Katie Karpinski