Emmanuel: God’s Eternal Presence

Emmanuel God's Eternal Presence

During the Christmas season, the word “Emmanuel” is certainly repeated often. Whether it’s during a Mass reading, written on a holiday card, or in the lyrics of a popular Christmas song, we are constantly reminded of Emmanuel. But what exactly does this word mean? To some, the word is synonymous with Jesus Christ, for others Emmanuel is the hope of Christ, or a feeling of anticipation. However, the actual meaning of Emmanuel stems much deeper than either of these theories. Emmanuel actually translates to “God is with us.”

You see, Emmanuel isn’t just a name or phrase: it is a promise. God is with us.

Many of us will be missing cherished loved ones this holiday season. It’s common for those who are grieving to experience an increased sense of loneliness during the holidays. Treasured memories of our loved ones will be vivid in our minds, and the traditions that once were so meaningful may be hard to bear. This is normal, but we must take heart and remember the promise of Emmanuel: God is with us. He is always with us. Even in our most lonely and desperate times, God is close to us. If you find yourself in a state of isolation, reach out to God and ask for His comfort and healing.

It is also important during this time of grief to attend Mass. While God is always with you, attending Mass is a unique opportunity to grow in physical closeness to Christ through the Eucharist. Receiving the blessed sacrament assures that God will live inside you, yet another reminder of His never ending love. Also, it is during the Mass that the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Certain portions of the Mass are even dedicated to the souls of those who have died and the saints currently in Heaven. By taking an active part in the Mass, you not only grow closer to Christ, but you have the chance to pray and reconnect with your dearly departed loved ones.

To anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one this season, you are not alone. God is with you.

~~~

Join us on December 17th for our Sunday Grief Support Group. This month’s topic will be “God’s Eternal Presence.”

In a warm, comfortable, and supportive environment, you’ll find a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences.
Come. Listen. Be in the presence of those who understand. Available at the following locations:

Holy Cross Cemetery, Akron
Holy Cross Cemetery, Brook Park
St. Joseph Cemetery, Avon

NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY. Please join us.

More information available at https://www.clecem.org/Events/Calendar.aspx

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

I Cried All Day Yesterday

“I cried all day yesterday so that I could be strong for the family today.” If you should ever wonder what kind of people work at the Catholic Cemeteries Association, the quotation above says it all. We know that families need us to be strong when they are broken, to guide them with love and compassion. We give a piece of ourselves to that family as we help them through the most difficult of tragedies. Giving the family a piece of our heart is the only way we know how to do this ministry. I know that every single member of the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff willingly gives of themselves to serve when families need us most.

To all the families served by the Catholic Cemeteries Association staff, whether it is the CEO or the staff member preparing the final place of rest, know that we accept our responsibility with reverence and are devoted to the person loved by you and entrusted to our care.

 

– Andrej Lah, Director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association

 

Daylighting Project at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron

The Catholic Cemeteries Association considers it a sacred duty and obligation to maintain, enhance, and otherwise improve your Catholic cemeteries. The CCA uses funds generated from the sale of our products and services to fund these improvement projects and to benefit the families who have entrusted the earthly remains of their loved ones to us. Lately, Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron has been in process of daylighting its streams. The daylighting of streams allows nature to become an integral part of the cemetery. Nature allows us to reflect and remember that we are surrounded by God’s creation. Further, water allowed to flow through the cemetery is a reminder of our baptism and of our belief in life everlasting. Check out some interesting pictures of the project below!

HCA Daylighting 1HCA Daylighting 2HCA Daylighting 3HCA Daylighting 4HCA Daylighting 5HCA Daylighting 6Newsletter picture

Handling the Holidays After Losing a Loved One

The air is getting colder, Halloween is over, and people are starting to flip their calendars to the ever-busy months of November and December. The approaching holiday season is enough to make anyone anxious: the plethora of social and financial obligations can be overwhelming, not to mention the emotional stress that the holidays may bring. This may be especially challenging for those who have lost a loved one. The holidays often are a reminder to people that their loved ones are gone. Therefore, this season can be saddening, or even painful for certain people. While there is no way to reverse or avoid these feelings, there are some things to keep in mind to make the holidays more bearable.

Handling the holidays.jpg

Take care of yourself
The holiday season can be a time of obligation. It’s easy to get swept up in other people’s schedules. Not only that, but we are also prone to setting certain holiday obligations on ourselves. The holidays are also a time of heightened emotional stress, so it’s important that you take time for yourself and enter the season with realistic expectations of what you can and can’t accomplish. A good way to approach this is to prioritize your tasks and make a list of what you would most like to do. Anything that doesn’t make the list doesn’t need to be done, and you can spend more time to practice self-care.

Modify tradition
After losing a loved one, the idea of maintaining certain traditions or customs may seem too hard to handle. The idea may arouse feelings of sadness or loss that you want to avoid. However, the loss of a loved one should not prevent you from enjoying a holiday or your previous traditions– you may just need to modify them a bit. For example, if the idea of not buying a gift for your loved one this year saddens you, buy a gift that they would have liked and give it to someone who would otherwise not have a gift. If you still celebrate with other family members and opening gifts on Christmas is too hard on you, suggest exchanging gifts a few days after Christmas or on New Year’s. It’s all dependent on what is best for you and your family– don’t be afraid to change things up!

Accept the tears– both happy and sad
Of course, there is nothing you can do to completely erase the sadness that losing a loved one adds to the holidays. You may feel overwhelmed at random times, and tears may come more freely than you think. This is natural and completely okay. However, it’s important to also look past this sadness and remember the happy memories you have of your loved ones. Whether it’s a favorite gift they were given, their favorite holiday movie, or a silly story, try to remember the wonderful moments you shared with them. Instead of becoming downtrodden with grief, celebrate all the joy your loved one brought you during their life!

Focus on the real reason behind the season
Above all this, remember why we celebrate in the first place: Jesus Christ. Focusing on the spiritual element of the holidays can help us put into perspective whatever suffering or hardships we are going through and place them within the context of Christ. Spending some alone time with the Lord and praying for your departed loved one may help you feel more connected during the holiday season. If you’re comfortable, light a candle in honor of your loved one– not as a memorial, but rather as a reminder of the light and joy they brought you while they were on Earth; let that light remind you also of God’s eternal light and the promise of hope he leaves in all our hearts.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Information gathered from: Getting Through the Holidays When You’ve Lost a Loved One by Darcie D. Sims.

All Saints, All Souls, and Cemetery Sunday: What are the differences?

While many of us “cradle Catholics” have grown up with the expectation of attending Mass the day after Halloween in observance of All Saints Day, I’m sure that there are some of us, myself included, that never really stopped to ask why All Saints Day was a holy day of obligation. Even more so, I was never aware that there are two other major Catholic observances in the month of November: All Souls Day and Cemetery Sunday. While all related, these three days are actually quite different, and each offers its own special intention. Keep reading to learn more about these three holy days, how they’re different, and how you can celebrate them.

 

cemetery sunday

 

All Saints Day (November 1st)

As I mentioned, All Saints Day (officially named Solemnity of All Saints) is the most well-known of the three November observances. All Saints Day is meant to be a celebration of the souls that are currently in Heaven. These souls include both known saints recognized by the church, and those that are unknown. Being a Holy Day of Obligation, All Saints Day is celebrated with a special Mass.

All Souls Day (November 2nd)

Not to be confused with All Saints Day, All Souls Day is a day dedicated to souls who are not in Heaven. This day is a chance for those of us here on Earth to offer prayers and intentions for those souls in purgatory– that they may find eternal peace and rest in the Kingdom of Heaven. While not a holy day of obligation, All Souls Day is an opportunity for all Catholics to pray for our departed brothers and sisters.

Cemetery Sunday (First Sunday in November)

Cemetery Sunday, while closely related to All Saints and All Souls Day, is rather unique. Proposed by the National Catholic Cemetery Conference in 1978, the day focuses on the physical location where souls are laid to rest: the cemetery. Catholic cemeteries are sacred ground, as they are blessed upon their founding, and they are treated as an extension of the Church itself. Therefore, Cemetery Sunday is a day dedicated to those buried in a Catholic cemetery. The day is normally celebrated with a special Mass on cemetery grounds. Cemetery Sunday is a spiritual way to honor family members who have passed, and provides families with a special opportunity to visit the graves of their dearly departed loved ones.

The Catholic Cemeteries Association will be celebrating Cemetery Sunday on November 5th, 2017.  Mass will be said at the following locations at 3pm:

Cemetery Mass Location Celebrant
All Saints, Northfield Nativity Mausoleum Rev. Luigi Miola
All Souls, Chardon Service Building Rev. Dave Woost
Calvary, Cleveland Main Office Rev. Thomas O’Donnell
Calvary, Lorain Our Lady of Guadalupe Mausoleum Rev. Robert J. Glepko
Holy Cross, Akron Sacred Heart of Jesus Mausoleum Rev. Thomas McCann
Holy Cross, Brook Park Service Building Rev. Michael Troha
St. Joseph, Avon St. Joseph Mausoleum Rev. Gerald Keller
St. Mary, Cuyahoga Hts. Service Building Rev. Andrew Panek

 

For more information, please email Rhonda Abrams at rabrams@clecem.org

Visit our event page on Facebook here.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Preplanning: What it is, Why it’s important, and how you can get started!

No one enjoys thinking about their own death. In fact, many people go to great lengths to avoid the subject entirely, choosing to ignore the matter of death altogether. While this may ease some worry in the short-term, in the long-term avoiding the topic of death, especially your own, can be unhealthy and lead to added stress, emotional turmoil, and financial struggles. As Catholics we realize that death is only the transition into a world that is much greater than we can even imagine. Instead of ignoring death or trying to outsmart it, embracing your mortality and planning ahead will actually bring you more peace of mind. The Catholic Cemeteries Association is here to provide our Catholic community with the knowledge and resources they need to preplan their final arrangements. Keep reading to learn more about preplanning: what it is, why it’s important, and how you can get started.

 

 What is it?

Preplanning is the process of planning your burial arrangements in advance. This process normally includes selecting your place of burial, what type of burial you prefer (traditional or cremation), memorials and monuments, and basic principles and guidelines regarding your burial to leave your loved ones following your death. Preplanning is all done with the help of a knowledgeable and compassionate Family Service Representative, who will assist you through each stage of the process.

 

Why is it important?

Preplanning is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones. Losing someone close to you is a traumatic experience, leaving family members distraught, confused, and unbelievably stressed. By planning your burial arrangements in advance, you save your loved ones the stress of making quick decisions regarding your final resting place. It is also a good way to save your family from the financial stress of burying a loved one. Another major advantage to preplanning is that it assures your final wishes will be carried out according to your own specific preferences. By starting early, you have time to research all of your options and come to the decision that best suits you and your specific situation.

How can you get started? 

Begin preplanning today by calling 855-85-2PLAN, or by visiting https://www.clecem.org/Information/BeginPrePlanning.aspx. One of our Family Service Representatives will be waiting for your call!

Losing a sibling: How to remember and recover

Sibling relationships are seldom simple. There seems to be a natural tendency for these relationships to be simultaneously loving and irksome. All siblings have disagreements and quarrels about silly things, but they are also quick to defend each other and are tied by a very special connection. Having such a close companion your entire life may make the loss of a sibling especially difficult. Even more so, there is a certain stigma surrounding the death of a sibling. Not being a spouse, parent, or child, some may think that the grief is less severe when the opposite might actually be true. You may be expected to take care of others affected by the death instead of taking time to care for yourself. Keep reading for comforting words.

losing a sibling

Respect your grief

As already mentioned, sometimes the death of a sibling can be swept under the rug. You may be busy taking care of your parents, or your siblings’ spouse and you may forget to take care of yourself in the process. Just as mourning the death of anyone else, the intensity and type of grief depends on the person and situation. Give yourself the time and space to grieve the death of your sibling in a way that suits you, and remember that your feelings are valid. Familiarize yourself with the grieving process and what you can expect following the death of a loved one. (Click here for 3 Common behaviors you may experience while grieving)

Deal with feelings of guilt or anger

It’s natural when a sibling dies to feel guilty or angry. Guilt can take many forms, be it survivor’s guilt, an unsettled argument, and many other possible reasons. The idea of survivor’s guilt is especially common among siblings, as they are normally close in age. Thoughts such as “I’m the oldest, I should have died first” or “He was a kinder person, I’m the one who deserved to die” are common examples of survivor’s guilt. While guilt is normal while grieving, long-term guilt can be very destructive. Try to let go of whatever guilt you may feel and focus on the good times you had with your sibling. Anger can also take many forms. You may be mad at yourself, your sibling for leaving you, or even God for taking your sibling away. This is also normal, but like feelings of guilt, extensive anger is not healthy. If you experience severe and prolonged anger or guilt, seeking help from your pastor or mental health professional may be helpful.

Celebrate through memories

Memorialization is an extremely important part of the grieving process. Memorializing someone ensures that their memory lives on for decades and generations, making sure that their memory never dies. Some good ways to memorialize your sibling include passing down special mementos, creating photo albums, or watching home videos. Some people find it helpful to continue a hobby or tradition that is associated with their sibling. Also, it’s important to talk about your sibling and share memories about them. At first this might be hard, but over time it will get easier. Talking about them often will help you heal while also honoring their memory.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Living alone after the death of a spouse

Marriage is a blessed sacrament for a reason. There is no substitution for standing up and confessing your love for another person, all while being showered in the graces of the Holy Spirit. It’s a very beautiful and spiritual experience to be married, which makes the death of a spouse even harder to experience. Marriage is the act of literally sharing your life with someone, physically and spiritually; so when a spouse passes away, it may feel as if a part of yourself has passed away as well. You may not remember what life was like before your spouse, and may be at a total loss on how to carry out your day to day activities. This is normal. Allowing yourself time to grieve and mourn the loss of your spouse is the healthiest thing you can do to assure a healthy transition to life without them. While no one grieves the same way, there are techniques that can help combat feelings of loneliness or desertion following the death of a spouse…

Untitled Design.jpg

1. Change can be good.

Living together, couples form certain systems and routines that they perform together, such as making the bed in the morning, going to church each week, or perhaps watching a show at a certain time each night. Immediately following the death of a loved one, and especially a spouse, you may have the tendency to hold onto certain items or routines that remind you of them. With the tragic change that is death, there is a need for certain levels of consistency and normalcy. There is nothing wrong with keeping certain things the same, but it’s also important to recognize that some new routines can be helpful. Whether it’s your morning or nighttime routine, your dinner routine, or even the way you make you coffee, if the old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore, change it! You might be surprised by how empowered and free you may feel with even the smallest of changes.

2. Supplement, don’t replace.

The loneliness felt after the death of a spouse can be hard. After sharing your life with someone and living with them, going home to an empty house at night may feel overwhelming. A great way to combat this feeling is to meet new people. Whether it’s reaching out to family and friends, joining a book club, or attending a Church group, spending time with other people can make you feel more connected and less isolated. While you can never replace your spouse, it’s important to remember the other people you have in your life as well!

3. Appreciate solitude

While it may seem contradictory, having some time to yourself can actually be very beneficial. It gives you time to learn more about yourself, and can open your heart and mind to hearing what God may be trying to tell you. There’s nothing wrong with spending some alone time to figure out who you are as a person, and find out what makes you happy.

Above all else, God is always there for you to listen and comfort. Just as he was present during your marriage ceremony, he is present with you always to offer his grace.

Information gathered from “Living Alone After the Death of a Spouse” by Karen Katafiasz

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What you should know about grave settling

School supplies are on sale, the air is getting cooler, and grocery stores are already selling Halloween candy. That’s right—Autumn is fast approaching! With any change in the seasons, we here at the Catholic Cemeteries Association are placed with the very important task of maintaining our graves, both old and new. Some common questions we hear involve how long it takes for a grave to settle, what the process entails, and the procedure surrounding new burials. You might be surprised by some of the answers! Keep reading to learn what you should know about grave settling.

1. What is grave settling?

Grave settling is the process of the earth (soil, clay, etc.) surrounding the burial readjusting.

2. How long does is take a grave to settle?

The duration of time it takes for a grave to settle varies greatly on the season, type of burial, and other external factors. However, on average its takes about a year for a grave to fully settle.

3. What is the process of leveling a grave?

Directly after the burial, the vault is surrounded by filler. While many cemeteries use only soil, we at the Catholic Cemeteries Association use fill sand to the top of the vault and then soil from the vault to the top of the grave. Sand is much more durable against water and therefore speeds and assists in the settling process. As the grave settles throughout the year, additional soil is added.

4. When will grass be planted?

Grass will be planted on a grave before the grave has settled completely. Typically, the first seed application will occur within a few months of the burial, depending on the season. As the grave continues to settle throughout the year, more soil and seed are applied until the grave is level and the grass has grown in fully. Please keep in mind that grass seed cannot be planted during summer and winter months as the seeds will not germinate. We understand that leveling and seeding can cause distress to a family and we ask for your patience during the process.

5. When can a memorial or monument be placed?

This answer varies depending on the individual situation. Many memorials can be set soon after the burial, weather permitting. The type of memorial (flush or above ground) will also affect how quickly it can be placed on a grave. It is also important to consider the production time of the memorial and if a poured cement foundation is required. Generally, memorials are not able to be set during late fall through early spring.

 

3 things men should know about grieving

Grief is much like a natural disaster—it’s unpredictable and doesn’t discriminate. It effects men and women, young and old, rich and poor. The only aspect of grief that can be controlled is how it’s handled by the individual, and that’s where some differences can occur.
While society may be trending towards more accepting gender standards, men are still faced with the constant assumption that “big boys don’t cry.” While this philosophy may work well during a sports game, it shouldn’t be accepted in all facets of life—particularity in regards to grieving. Men have the natural tendency to downplay uncomfortable feelings, expecting the feelings to just go away if ignored long enough. In other cases, men may acknowledge the negative feeling, but still not partake in proper coping mechanisms. Instead of experiencing grief, they try to speed the process which is exactly what NOT to do when grieving. We all need some guidance when it comes to grieving– men might need a little extra. Take a look at these 3 things men should know about grieving. Whether it’s you or someone you know, these tips will assist in a healthy grieving process and hopefully bring some comfort.

Untitled Design

 

1. Grieving is a process

Men are notorious for finding quick solutions. They are fixers, it’s what they do. To have something broken for too long makes them anxious, which is why grieving can be so difficult for some. When you lose a loved one, part of your heart breaks. Unlike home repair projects, this damage can’t be fixed with super glue or a call to a repairman. It takes time. Grieving is process that requires patience, both with yourself and those around you. It’s important to slow down and understand that you cannot fix this alone, and it won’t mend overnight.

2. It’s okay to not have it “together”

Whether you’re a father, husband, brother, uncle, or even just a close friend, men are often seen as the primary defenders and providers for their family and friends. They are born into leadership roles, and because of this they have people depending on them constantly. This certainly places pressure on men who are trying to be everything to everyone. While grieving, life can become hectic and confusing. Even more so, the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences can be disorienting in themselves. You may feel bad if you can’t be that provider all the time, but do not feel guilty. Instead, embrace your humanity and learn to rely on others as they have always relied on you. Also, don’t forget to rely on God who will never forsake you.

3. It’s okay to cry

Men are taught at a young age that crying is not acceptable. This is mainly attributed to the connection of crying with weakness. However, crying is a sign of strength and courage. Tearing down those emotional barriers and unapologetically expressing your feelings is a brave thing to do. Even more so, crying can be extremely helpful in the grieving process. Crying releases endorphins which can elevate your mood and energy. Crying is also a healthy way to express sadness, anger, or loss—so why keep it in?

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski
Information gathered from “Handling Grief as a Man” by Bob Miller.