|“For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)|
The season of summer, which follows spring’s bursting forth of new life and growth, brings to mind nature’s strength. July is filled with warm sunny days (except in northeast Ohio), summer fun, family vacations and camp. Graduation parties are winding down and thoughts of the new school year are slowly making their way into the conversation. As these events come and go, those who are suffering a loss are reminded that life continues regardless of the broken heart they carry along the way.
The renewal and strength that is associated with summer can also bring hope. Let us try to accept the responsibility of bringing that hope to our neighbors. As we continue the steady march toward some level of normalcy, we are called to renew relationships and to open our hearts to each other. As we renew our relationships, let us place an emphasis on renewing our relationship and devotion to Jesus. Our Lord and Savior became Man to renew our relationship with God, and with the shedding of his Precious Blood, He opened the door once closed. Jesus willingly gave Himself over to shed His blood in a supreme act of love. This love He has for each of us, most evident as we celebrate the sacraments, is the true roadmap we use to find Him in paradise.
Throughout the season of summer, while we slowly return to the ordinary lives we enjoyed pre-pandemic, we find ourselves reconnecting with friends and loved ones. We realize that many will be dealing with the pain of loss. At those summer parties, we smile despite the pain from the death of a loved one, but it is in the Precious Blood, shed for us, that our relationship with God is renewed and the path to paradise established. By accepting that His death and the shedding of His Precious Blood renews our relationship with God, we gain the gift of hope and the peace of knowing that paradise is within reach.
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to recognize July as Social Wellness Month. During this month, focus on nurturing yourself and your relationships. Social wellness and keeping a strong social network play a role in almost every aspect of your health. There are many forms of social support that affect the strength and security of your relationships. As we begin to reconnect with loved ones following the pandemic, there are a few things you should focus on regarding social wellness.
What is social wellness?
Social wellness involves giving and receiving social support. It’s about nurturing yourself and your relationships to have a strong, fulfilling, and uplifting social network. The three main forms of social support are emotional, instrumental, and informational. Giving and receiving emotional support helps you feel cared for and balanced. Instrumental support refers to physical support such as money, helping around the house, or providing care during sickness. To give informational support, you would provide information or advice to help someone. These forms of support are all important for social health, especially as the world is opening up after the pandemic.
Why is social wellness important?
Social wellness has many benefits on your mental, social, and even physical health. Having strong relationships and feeling supported by the people you’re surrounded with correlates to a positive self-image. Your confidence and personal wellness will carry over into your relationships and make you want to be a better friend, parent, child, sibling, etc. Social wellness is also important because it affects your physical health. Your body and mind work together, and it’s important to focus on taking care of both. People with healthy relationships literally have a healthier heart. They respond better to stress, and they even tend to live longer than people with weaker social networks.
Reconnecting with friends and family after COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been deprived of social contact the past year. Being alone has become part of our lifestyle, and it can be hard for some people to go back to social situations after adapting to isolation. One way that may make it easier to reconnect with people after the pandemic is making commitments that won’t overwhelm you. It’s okay to ease back into social situations at your own speed and comfort level, but only make commitments you can stand by. Being honest about your availability and staying connected and committed is a very important part of nurturing friendships and relationships. It may be difficult to step out of your comfort zone after the pandemic, but there are steps you can take to get yourself out of isolation mode. Exercise with a group, go out for a meal, or take up a new hobby with a friend. You can even join a club that interests you, which may lead to making new friends. Reach out to your family and friends to see if they want to connect. If you aren’t comfortable connecting in person due to COVID-19, you could go on a relaxing walk, engage in a new individual hobby, and video chat with friends and family.
In this day and age, it may be difficult to be present in your relationships due to the existence of social media. Social media can be a blessing and a curse: it can help you stay connected with people online, but it also distracts you from what really matters. During the pandemic, it was easy to get addicted to social media. Throughout this month and going forward, focus on what matters and start each day with a new attitude. While spending time with friends or family, be present in your conversations. Keep an open mind and appreciate the time you have with the people you love. Showing love and appreciation keeps relationships healthy and open. As the pandemic settles, focus on nurturing your relationships and remember to love often.
Post written by Jill Bosela
Blog written: June 15, 2021
June 2021 will be remembered as a special time in our lives. Over a year has passed since our world was besieged by the Covid-19 Global Pandemic and the resulting lockdown and isolation that ensued.
June is also a time of new beginnings and renewed life. Spring has sprung and flowers are in bloom. The world and our communities are re-opening. Returning to a sense of normalcy with the opening of restaurants, venues and most importantly, a return to our Church’s in-person liturgical celebrations, brings a renewed sense of hope. June brings me, full circle, back to my Catholic roots. I am honored to be the newly appointed Marketing and Communications Manager at Catholic Cemeteries Association.
I am excited to begin my new marketing role at Catholic Cemeteries Association. Pulling into the entrance of the corporate offices gave me a sense of coming full circle. My grandparents, Frank and Mildred Gallagher, along with other relatives, are buried here, at Calvary Cemetery. Up until two years ago, I had only been here as a young girl when my grandparents were buried. In the summer of 2019, I was at a burial of my friend’s father. I knew my grandparents were buried here and I had just discovered the CCA app for locating burial plots at any of the 19 CCA cemeteries. Unbelievable as it might seem, I put in their names and their burial location was on the same hillside as the burial site of my friend’s father. Using the GPS feature, I found their headstones and felt so happy to be able to say a prayer at their graveside. Little did I know that two years later, I would be working here, looking out on the grounds of Calvary where they are resting.
June is also a significant month for a few other reasons. On June 11th and throughout the month, we focus on The Sacred Heart of Jesus. One of my first social media posts for CCA included the painting that I have had in our home throughout our marriage and raising our family. This is significant to me personally, because my grandfather was a leader and active member of Cleveland’s Sacred Heart of Jesus organization. His devotion to The Sacred Heart of Jesus influenced his 10 children and eventually, their children (all 50+ cousins of mine) to keep our faith alive and to “live” our faith. Displaying the Picture of The Sacred Heart of Jesus in our homes, throughout my life, to this day, is a daily reminder to try to dedicate our day to His work and serving others.
This Sunday, June 20th, we celebrate Father’s Day. It is a bittersweet time for those of us who have lost our own fathers. My father passed away on June 24th, 18 years ago, this year. He passed two years after, to the day, as my maternal grandmother. This past weekend, I traveled to Pennsylvania and visited the gravesite of my maternal grandparents, John and Julia Sheredy. It was on my grandfather’s birthday, June 12th. You can see that June has been a time of remembrance for me and it has also brought me full circle, as I start this new role at CCA. To remember our loved ones is bittersweet, yes. It is also hopeful. The legacy of faith that our loved ones have shared is a gift. In living their faith, they have instilled within us, the hope that keeping the love of Christ alive within us brings. The beautiful part of our faith is the hope of eternal life to come. I am grateful for our fathers and for the time in June where we are called to remember their legacy of hope and faith. I am grateful for coming full circle and look forward to serving here at Catholic Cemeteries Association.
Kathleen Gallagher McKiernan, BEE, MBA
Marketing and Communications Manager
Catholic Cemeteries Association