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

The Hole

The days are getting shorter, the air is a bit cooler and the smells of fall are everywhere. The stores are filled with Halloween decorations and costumes. Our daily activities dominate our lives and distract us from so many other things happening around us. Many of us will look back on this past summer and remember a great vacation and other grand adventures but for some this summer will carry a different set of memories. Some are dealing with the recent loss of someone they love; a hole created by death that can never be filled.

News of the death of someone we love has different levels of emotional trauma. When it is a child, regardless of the age of the child, the trauma a parent experiences is beyond anything we can measure. The devastation is overpowering and causes such indescribable numbness that some are unable to see how they can survive to the next day. The news of a grandparent is also traumatic but when the deceased had recently celebrated their 100th birthday, everyone expected that one day soon the call would come. We are both traumatized by the loss and grateful for the time we were given. In either situation, those who have faith know that this separation is temporary and it is in our Catholic Cemeteries where the hope of our reunion comes alive.

Fall is the time when we celebrate Cemetery Sunday which is in conjunction with All Souls Day. We celebrate the mass to remember the deceased and pray for them. It is the time that we are reminded of the promise Jesus made to us in those days leading up to His ultimate sacrifice. While there are many sacred places, it is only in a Catholic cemetery where our Catholic faith is fully acknowledged.

Our faith gives us hope and in our Catholic cemeteries we find a truly sacred place to remember the person whose loss has left a hole in our life. It is in our Catholic cemetery where we find that the hole is a bit less painful, because we come to believe in the promise of paradise.

Each of us might reflect on where we would have stood on that very first Good Friday. What would we have done if we had been part of that crowd watching as a man wearing a crown of thorns and a makeshift royal cloak was presented to us for sentencing? Today we know what He did for us without hesitation but where would we have been then?

Today we can reflect on the promise He made and have hope that with our final breath He will be waiting for us along with all those who we loved while traveling along a faith filled path toward paradise. I see in our Catholic cemeteries only hope that our faith will be fulfilled on the last day when the promise made will finally be kept.

When we kneel at the grave of our loved one, their death causes us to grieve but it is the promise that gives us comfort in the knowledge that this separation is only temporary.

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

Grief Is Like a Roller Coaster

When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be tall enough to ride on the rollercoasters at Euclid Beach, Geauga Lake and Cedar Point.  After years of anticipation, I finally reached that 48″ mark and stood in line to ride the infamous Blue Streak.  Turns out I hated it, not much of a rollercoaster fan.

Have you ever said “I feel like I am on an emotional rollercoaster” in dealing with your grief?  What a perfect parallel.  At the beginning of our grief journey, we can experience disbelief and shock, we may feel numb and disconnected from others.  The details of the funeral and burial consume all of our attention and energy, we may not have the time or will to even think about how or when we will grieve.

A month or so following the burial, meals may stop coming, phone calls from friends and family lessen, the thank you notes have been sent and we have a moment to catch our breath, to feel, to think. The months following may be filled with profound sadness, isolation; it may be setting in that your loved one has died. The first hill on the rollercoaster, it always seems to be the biggest, and we seldom know what to expect.

During the first year of grief we have to get through all the firsts: birthday, anniversary, and major holidays. Ah…the part of the rollercoaster ride that has constant ups and downs with very little time to prepare for the next hill.  The drops may not be as extreme as that first hill but they are still difficult to get through.

Many bereavement/grief specialists are now finding that the most difficult period of grief is from 12-16 months.  There is a finality to the death of your loved one.  Many rollercoasters have a loop or corkscrew near the end of the ride.  Your world has been turned upside down and you have to learn to deal and live with it.

Now if you could imagine for a moment that Jesus is buckled in beside you on this crazy ride.  He has his arms around you, embracing you, protecting you.  He is taking this rollercoaster ride with you.  He never leaves your side.  He is the one constant during an unpredictable time.  Hold onto him.

Nancy Romaine, LSW, MPA

Bereavement Coordinator

Catholic Cemeteries Association