He Makes All Things New

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

– Revelations 21:3-4

Many of us are familiar with Revelations 21:3-4. The phrases used and the imagery depicted have brought comfort to those who are grieving, as the passage tells of a time when suffering will be no more and the concept of death no longer has a hold on us. But there is something more to this passage that doesn’t often make it to greeting cards and memorial services…

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelations 21:1-5

Revelations 21:1-5

Looking at the passage as a whole, we are told about God’s loving promise of renewal. God doesn’t simply erase pain from the world, He actually transforms the world and makes it new. This transformative change is a necessary part in God’s plan to bring us all into communion with Him.

We are called to embrace this idea in our everyday lives. Change is often seen as something to be afraid of, and sometimes new starts are more frightening than they are comforting. This is normal and part of the human experience. However, in times when a change in our life may seem overwhelming or too much to bear (such as losing a loved one) reminding yourself that change isn’t inherently destructive can expand your outlook. Change, while painful, can also lead to greater comfort and healing moving forward.

Whether we’re entering a new year, new season, or even a new day – we are called to embrace the newness and change that God places in our lives. Change is the catalyst to something new. No day is ever the same as the last. As we embrace this concept, we can learn to appreciate each new day as it comes to us, and embrace those bad days that are bound to happen. Just like everything in life, even our worst days will end, and a new day will begin.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What to Expect When Attending a Grief Support Group

The Catholic Cemetery Association offers a safe and welcoming environment where the bereaved can come to be present with others who understand. The hardest parts of processing grief are best dealt with by talking about what you are feeling and realizing that most of what you experience is normal and eases over time.

Here are a few of the most common things to expect when attending one of our Grief Support Groups:

Relief/Clarity

You’ll find a sense of relief or freedom in being able to be open with your feelings.  Sometimes with family or friends, we tend to want to protect others from our hurt and pain and we don’t allow ourselves to fully experience the grief. We feel we have to be strong for them or we feel that we should be further along in our grieving. This is true especially if others in your family don’t “seem” to be grieving as much as you. Attending a support group can illustrate how everyone’s grief is personal and unique, and that everyone processes grief differently. In some cases, you may find new coping skills for common grief experiences.

Companionship

Our number one goal is for you to know that you do not have to be alone in your grief. Our support groups are designed to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for you to share your grief story and share experiences with other participants. While each grief experience is different, there is strength and comfort to be found in knowing you are not alone.

Diverse grief needs

There will be other participants in the group with varying degrees of grief. Some may have recently lost their loved one, and others may be working through a loss they experienced years ago. You may encounter others in the group who handle life in general differently from you. In our groups, we respect each person’s unique way of processing grief, without judgement. There are no wrong questions or feelings because your feelings are unique to your life experiences. In fact, these differences can provide you with a greater perspective in regard to grief and the healing process.

What NOT to expect:

Professional Counseling or Therapy

Our Group Facilitators are not psychologists or therapists, but rather trained specifically to help people understand what grief is and to encourage effective group discussions. We are able to help direct people in need of deeper grief work, to local resources for obtaining one-on-one or a specific type of grief counseling (widows, infant/child loss, accidental, traumatic/violence, suicide, substance abuse death, and other types of intense grief experiences).

A Quick Fix

Processing your grief is not a quick fix. It is not reasonable to expect to be back to “normal” in six months, or even a year. It takes time and patience as you work through painful emotions and life-altering changes.  But with a good support network at your side, you will find hope to take that next courageous step toward your new normal.

Grief will never be an easy journey, especially if you are attempting to journey it alone. Come and join a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences, helping each other through prayer, shared stories, and grief recovery discussions.

Post written by Kaleigh Rice

Content derived from interview with CCA Bereavement Coordinator, Rhonda Abrams.

8 Attainable Resolutions for the Bereaved

For those who have lost a loved one, new year’s resolutions come down to personal preference. For some, the idea of a resolution may seem too overwhelming at the time– similar to starting a new project or chore in the midst of extreme sorrow. For others, resolutions serve as an inspirational and motivational tool that helps them cope with grief and grow as a person. Whether or not you choose to take on a new year’s resolution is entirely up to you and where you are on your grief journey. However, if you are interested in taking on a new year’s resolution, keep reading for some ideas!

8 Attainable Resoulutions for the Bereaved.jpg

  1. Recognize your strengths

Losing a loved one can install feelings of weakness or helplessness. Start the new year by making a list of your personal strengths, your blessings, and your dreams. Take action and leverage your strengths to accomplish new goals and cope with your grief.

  1. Slow down

Make sure that you aren’t using a busy schedule or work life to cope with your grief. Not only does that make for an unhealthy healing, but it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make a promise in this new year to slow down and take more time for yourself.

  1. Attend a support group

Support groups are a great way to cope with your grief. Sharing experiences within a support group is a way for all involved to grieve in a healthy and constructive way. (Interested in joining a support group? Click here.)

  1. Try a new hobby

It’s never too late to learn something new. If you feel stagnant or if you feel stuck, pick up a new hobby and see where it takes you. Whether it’s photography, sewing, or hiking– find something new to learn and enjoy to bring some excitement in your life.

  1. Get 20 minutes of sunlight or fresh air each day

Fresh air and sunlight can do wonderful things for the mind, body, and spirit. While it may be tempting to stay indoors all day, try to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day. Even if it’s just in your backyard.

  1. Speak your loved one’s name

Keep the memory of your loved one alive in the new year by speaking their name often. The key to grieving is not to forget, but to remember with hope that you will one day be reunited.

  1. Start a journal

Journaling can be a great way to cope with grief and express your emotions. Think of journaling as a personal letter to God. What are you feeling? What are your hopes? Share these with him and see where the journey takes you. Try to make it a daily habit—God likes to hear from us every day.

  1. Be open to happiness

While there will always be a part of you that misses your loved one dearly, never forget to be open to happiness and new experiences. Pay attention to the blessings God has placed in your life, big and small.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Remembering Our Loved Ones This Holiday Season

As I write these words, I understand that everyone reading this newsletter has experienced some type of loss. Whether it’s the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or friend we all enter the holiday season knowing that our loved one will no longer be here to celebrate with us. For those suffering a recent loss, the pain can be unbearable. For those who have gone many holidays without their loved one, the pain may be dulled a bit, but still remains each year. It’s important that we acknowledge that the pain of losing a loved one may never fully go away.


But there is hope.


While we may feel the ache of loss during the holiday season, we must also remember that we are called to experience great joy with the arrival of God’s gift to earth: Jesus Christ. Without Christ and His sacrifice, we would not have the chance to be reunited with our loved ones in Heaven one day. This promise of eternal life is something that should uplift our hearts and guide us out of deep despair.


If you find yourself struggling this holiday season, remember that God calls us all to find peace and happiness. Finding glimpses of joy and thanksgiving does not mean you miss your loved one any less. Your loved one would want you to be happy. They would want to see a smile on your face. Therefore, try to find some joy this holiday season. Doing so will bring you closer to both God and your dearly departed loved ones. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah – Director, Catholic Cemeteries Association

December 2019

Honoring Bishop Lennon

This fall, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland collectively mourned the loss of Bishop Richard Lennon. Bishop Lennon was the 10th Bishop to serve the Diocese of Cleveland. Throughout his life, Bishop Lennon was known for his deep dedication to serving the Catholic community and keeping constant the values of the Catholic faith. After ten years of faithful service to the Diocese, Bishop Lennon petitioned for early retirement in 2016 due to health concerns. He passed away on October 29, 2019.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association was called soon after Bishop Lennon’s passing and was asked to perform his entombment at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. The CCA was also asked to engrave Bishop Lennon’s crypt front. We considered this task a great honor, and an opportunity to pay our final respects to Bishop Lennon. Creating his crypt front required special attention to detail and both modern and traditional forms of artistry.

Bishop Lennon instructed before his passing that he be laid to rest inside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, along with other Bishops of the Diocese of Cleveland. Their crypt fronts date back to the 1800’s, with the most recent entombment occurring in the 1980’s. This posed a challenge to our engraving team, as they were tasked with matching the design of the historic crypt fronts.

The first step was to visit the existing crypts to get rubbings and photos for reference.

A crypt front rubbing that the CCA team used for reference.

Next, our team scanned these images into our system. Once in the system, each letter and symbol was redrawn and fine-tuned to match the historic style. The small imperfections found on the older crypt fronts were kept intact so that all crypt fronts would match and have the same feel.

After the image was fully designed within our software, a vinyl stencil was printed. After cutting out the details of the stencil, the stone was then prepared for sandblasting.

Sandblasting is what actually engraves the stone. The pressure of the sand determines how deep the inscription goes into the stone. After a few rounds of sandblasting, some finishing touches were made by hand.

The prepped stencil ready to be sandblasted.

Once all the finishing touches were made, the stone was carefully packaged and delivered to the Cathedral where CCA staff was ready to lay Bishop Lennon to rest and install the crypt front.

The CCA is humbled by our involvement in honoring Bishop Lennon’s life and legacy. May we never forget his dedication to the Diocese of Cleveland, and the positive impact he made on our Catholic community.

Post written by Katie Karpinski