Am I Strong Enough to Handle This?

After the death of a loved one, life can seem so overwhelming.  We may want to scream, “Why is everyone acting as if nothing happened? I am experiencing the greatest pain of my life! My world has been turned upside down!” We then realize that life does go on and we must continue to function. We are tired, we can’t sleep, we have no appetite, or we are forgetful.  We may be angry, impatient and may burst into tears at the drop of a hat. We then ask ourselves, “How am I going to get through this? I don’t think I am strong enough.”

Do you remember when you were younger and you could not reach something? You would ask your mom or dad for help.  Even now when I can’t open that pickle jar, I have to ask my husband for help.  As we all know, it is easy to get lost in an unfamiliar area and eventually we have to ask for directions.  In order for many of us to get through our grief, we have to ask for help.  It is very difficult to get through this journey alone.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Through the assistance from loved ones, friends, support groups and other bereavement services, you can gain the strength necessary to work through your grief.  Our Lord is our greatest source of that strength.  The Lord is waiting with open arms to comfort you and sit with you.

              The next time you feel overwhelmed, afraid, lonely or sad, find a quiet place in your home or yard; close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Ask that the Lord come sit with you or walk with you and pour out your concerns and troubles to Him. Imagine the Lord with his arms around you, holding you or maybe evening carrying you.  He wants nothing more than to do that for you during this difficult time.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemetery Association

Tending To Our Gardens

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This time of year, I marvel at the talents bestowed upon gardeners and farmers by God.  The sowing season entails so much planning, preparation and hard work.  After the crops or gardens are planted, there is an immense amount of care needed to insure a fruitful harvest; the watering, weeding, fertilizing and pruning. But after months of rigorous labor and meticulous care, the farmer and gardener reap the benefits of their hard work; Fresh fruits and vegetables that will be enjoyed by so many!

After the harvest, the land is turned and fertilized with the garden leftovers to prepare for the next growing season.  I can’t help but see similarities between our gardens and our human existence.

The Lord, our Master Gardener, meticulously planned and planted us exactly where He wanted us to be.   He feeds us spiritually with the Sacred Scriptures and the blessed Sacraments.  He weeds away anxiety, temptation, and human weakness through Divine Intervention of the Holy Spirit.  I compare hardship in our lives to the Lord pruning us to insure that we grow to our fullest potential and put our trust in Him.  That pruning sometimes hurts.  During this time, we may question our faith, our God, and our worth.  Gardeners know however, that after pruning a plant, new growth occurs.  Greener and fuller branches appear and the plant is healthier and bears more fruit.

May this summer bring you sunshine, soft rains and quiet times so that you may reflect on what a wonderful creation you are. Blessings.

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association

What’s In a Name?

In this beautiful month of June, everything is in full bloom, kids are finishing up with school, vacations are being planned, gardens are being planted and we look forward to celebrating Father’s Day.  There are so many different terms of endearment we use to refer to our fathers: dad, daddy, pops, papa, father or yes, even sir.  Each name evokes different emotions: endearment, respect, love, and possibly fear.  We all can remember hearing or saying, “Just wait until your father gets home!”

When my father died, it had a tremendous impact on my life.  We had lost our patriarch, the provider, the leader of our large family.  I had lost my confidant, my supporter and my sounding board. I felt less secure, more vulnerable and less care free.  Our family was not complete anymore; my mother was now a widow and living on her own.  I felt lost.  Through prayer and time, I have worked through that grief, but on Father’s Day, I still miss Papa.

We also call upon our heavenly Father in so many ways: Abba, God, Lord, Father, Christ and I AM.  These, too, may evoke different emotions. Since my father has died, I find myself approaching our Lord, as I would have my dad.  I confide in Him about my fears, my hopes, my sadness, and my regrets. Jesus is my greatest supporter and a wonderful listener.  He is also a perfect disciplinarian so gentle and so abundant in his mercy.  It is such a comfort to me to know that I have two fathers in Heaven!

Nancy Romaine

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association

Diocese of Cleveland

Mary, Our Mother

It is May, the month of Mary, Our Blessed Mother. May Crownings, First Communions and Mother’s Day are celebrated. Flowers and trees are in full bloom and winter is a distant memory.

I have had a strong devotion to Mary since I was a little girl. Having a gentle, loving earthly mother, I imagined Mary to be similar in a spiritual way; that was of great comfort to me. As I matured and had children of my own, I looked to Mary for guidance and intercession with her Son, Jesus. As a mother, you are cognizant of your short comings and your need to improve, but you also realize the beautiful bond you have with your children.

Just recently, I experienced Mary in a new way. My son was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to go through 9 weeks of chemo therapy. The pain I felt in my heart was indescribable, I felt helpless and afraid. As fate would have it, his chemo sessions occurred during Lent. I prayed the Rosary daily, and asked Mary for strength and guidance, she knew the pain in my heart; she understood my fear; and could relate with my feelings of helplessness. She had experienced all these emotions during the Passion of her Son, Jesus Christ. I was broken, and I sought comfort from Our Lady and she provided me with peace. The chemo sessions have ended, my son is growing stronger day by day, and is cancer-free. God is good.

During times of grief or sadness, rely on Our Mother Mary, to bring you comfort and peace.

Nancy Romaine

April Showers……Makes Me Sad

The Easter season is upon us.  It is a time for renewed hope, a time of rebirth, and a time for rejoicing.  The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ gives us great reason to shout a resounding “Alleluia!”. Jesus has conquered sin and death so that we all might have eternal life – pretty awesome.

Then why does our grief continue or even escalate? During the cold, dreary, short days of winter, it is quite understandable that we may feel sad, reclusive and less energetic…non-grieving people experience this as well.  But when the weather becomes warmer, the days longer and the trees and flowers begin to bloom, we think we should feel less sad, more sociable and have increased energy, but we may not. I notice that during this time of year, the number of bereavement calls I receive escalates. More likely than not the phone conversations start out the same, “Nancy, I know I SHOULD be feeling better now that it is springtime, but…..” There are so many “shoulds” we put on ourselves…. “I should go through my husband’s belongings, I should stop crying so much, I should move on, the list can go on forever. As we travel through our grief journey, these “shoulds” can become stumbling blocks and unnecessary obstacles.

Springtime holds many reminders of our loved ones, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, wedding anniversaries and so on.  So this season may evoke sadness and longing and that’s ok.  Allow yourself to freely feel these things, without thinking about how you “SHOULD” feel. Our God has created each of us uniquely, so each of our grief experiences will be different.  But one thing is constant, and that is the love and comfort of our Risen Lord.

How Long Will the Pain Last?

When will I be over my grief?  When will I feel like myself again?  When will I start to enjoy the things that I used to enjoy?  I have been asked these questions so many times.  Wouldn’t it be so helpful to have a grief planner, a calendar, a to-do list in order to move through your sadness in a predetermined amount of time?  We who are grieving wish it was that simple.  Unfortunately, there is no timeline, no grief manual, and no set plan to get us through our heart break.

There is really no way around grief.  We can busy ourselves and redirect our attention to other things or other people, but grief always finds a way of coming to the surface.  No matter where we are on our grief journey we can still experience the pain “as if it happened only yesterday”.  In our task-oriented society, we attempt to attach a start time and finish time to everything we do.  God has created us, He is quite aware of our need to control feelings and situations; He is the Master Planner!

Each of us is unique.  Our relationship with our deceased loved one is unique.  Our support system is unique, as are our coping skills.  There is one thing that we all share and that is the love and compassion of our Lord.  HE knows our pain; HE knows the relationship we shared with our deceased loved one; HE knows what kind of support and coping skills we have.  HE is in control.  Rely on God’s comfort and goodness.  Believe that this pain will pass….all in God’s time.

Nancy Romaine,

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association

How Long Will The Pain Last?

All the rest of your life. But the thing to remember is that not only the pain will last, but the blessed memories as well. Tears are proof of life. The more love, the more tears. If this be true, then how could we ever ask that the pain cease altogether? For then the memory of love would go with it. The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.

 

Author Unknown

Those “Take Your Breath Away” Moments

We have all experienced those moments that “take our breath away” Some people find those moments in nature, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the first blooms of spring, the magnificent colors of autumn, the pristine blanket of the first snowfall. For others it’s in people, the moment you say “I do”, seeing your child walk for the first time, seeing a family member that has been away for a long time. Still others experience these moments with God, in a prayer answered or a special blessing. These short snippets of time are etched in our minds forever, we continue to find joy in just remembering them. No one can take those memories away.

On our grief journey, we will experience these “take your breath away” moments. Unfortunately, these moments may not evoke the joy and comfort of our other experiences. How many of us have picked up the phone to share something special or funny with our deceased loved one, and realize that they are not there? Or we hear the knock on the door and for a brief moment we think they have come to visit. We have to catch our breath when reality sets in.   These are painful, sad moments, but they will not last forever! With the assistance of the Holy Spirit and support from our loved ones we will get through these difficult times.

As the Bereavement Coordinator, I have learned so many creative ways to cope with this sadness:

  • Give yourself time to grieve.
  • Visit the cemetery, look at photos; remember your loved one.
  • Journaling: jot down your feelings, your sadness, and your progress.
  • Be with God and allow him to comfort you.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Nancy Romaine, Bereavement Coordinator, Catholic Cemeteries Association