As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, much of the world is focused on chocolates, Valentine’s cards, and spending time with their significant other. However, there are also those for whom Valentine’s Day is a reminder of the absence of their loved one. Instead of celebrating love, they are reminded of their broken heart. I see this pain in the eyes of the widows and widowers that I’ve come to know.
Yet, in the midst of this suffering, I believe there is hope to be found. Upon losing a loved one, it may feel as if their absence is permanent. As followers of Christ, however, we have hope that this separation is only temporary. Having hope doesn’t make the loss any less painful, but hope can make your burden a bit lighter to bear. We must accept that God calls us all home on His time, not ours. We will never know the reasoning behind God’s timing. All we can do is place our trust and hope in the Lord, and reflect on the love He calls us all to embody throughout our time here on earth.
As hard as it may be, I encourage you to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day. Remember the love you shared with your dearly departed. Reflect on the love that you still have for them. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you.
In a world where everything seems to move too quickly, we can find comfort in knowing love is eternal.
It’s hard to believe that we have already found ourselves in the year 2020. It seems that the rush of the holiday season has started to settle and the world has gone back to its typical routines. However, we at the CCA understand that the New Year may be difficult for many people, as it is a reminder that another year is starting without our dearly departed loved ones. While we carry on with our daily lives, our loved ones are no longer with us to celebrate life’s most precious moments. We may feel like the passing of time pulls us further and further away from our loved ones, but the opposite is true.
The emotional connection we make with our loved ones is something that cannot be broken by death. It is something that lives on and evolves, even after their passing. Each year is a chance for us to strengthen our emotional relationship with our loved ones, both living and deceased.
We must remember that God exists outside of time. Our departed loved ones are present in a world far beyond our comprehension. While entering the New Year may seem daunting to some of us here on earth, we can find comfort in knowing our loved ones exist free of the limits of time and are joyfully awaiting our eventual reunion with them in God’s kingdom.
May God grace you and your family with abundant blessings this New Year.
“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. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 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. 4 ‘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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.