Experiencing Grief as a Family

Family dynamics are complex. They are made even more complex when families share the loss of a loved one. Being in such a fragile state, it can be easy to grow frustrated with yourself and each other. While grief will never be an easy journey, there are some things to keep in mind while grieving as a family that can make the journey a little smoother…

Experiencing Grief as a Family

It’s always important to remember that people grieve differently. There are several factors that contribute to how someone grieves, including their age, emotional temperament, and their relationship to the person who passed away. For instance, the way a woman mourns the loss of her spouse is much different than the way a child would mourn for their father. Whereas a spouse may be concerned about how to assume household responsibilities and may mourn the loss of romantic love, a child may be more concerned with the entire idea of death and the loss of parental love. Even those who hold the same role in family, such as two parents who tragically lose a child, may mourn differently due to their personal traits and experiences. It’s important that you remember the fundamental differences that exist from person to person, and be sensitive to these differences. While you may be grieving the same person, this person holds a unique place in each of your hearts.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to avoid comparisons. It’s one thing to support each other by understanding and tolerating differences, but you must also be careful to not benchmark or compare grief experiences. Comparison only leads to more emotional turmoil, and is never healthy. Just remember:

No one grieves in the same way

While one family member may express their grief more physically by crying, other family members may feel more comfortable keeping those feelings reserved. Likewise, some people enjoy being around others while grieving, whereas others prefer to be left alone. There are countless other examples, all of which can vary from person to person.

There is no universal timeline for grief

Family members will work through their grief at their own pace. It all depends on the person and the unique situation.

While members of a family may have completely different grief experiences, there are ways you can help and support each other. Communicating often and openly is always a healthy exercise. Sharing with your family how you’re feeling, and listening to their own thoughts and feelings, can help you sympathize with each other. Another activity family can do together is find time to pray. While everyone may have different experiences, feelings, and personalities everyone has common ground in Christ.

Interested in joining a grief support group? Our groups meet the 3rd Sunday of every month. For more information, please visit https://clecem.org/Information/Bereavement.aspx

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Losing a Loved One to Suicide

Suicide is undoubtedly one of the most devastating tragedies. It knows no limits—happening to even the most faithful of people and families, leaving behind hurt, confused, and mournful family and friends. Losing someone to suicide differs from other losses, and therefore grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide also differs. If you have lost someone to suicide, please take some time to read these words of comfort.

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Some questions will go unanswered

Often the first question asked after hearing someone died by suicide is “why?” While we do know some psychological and physiological reasons why people take their own lives, such as loss, failure, or mental illness, the loss of a loved one can still be emotionally confusing. As with any death, confusion is a normal part of the grieving process. However, in the case of suicide this confusion may be more severe. Often when people die by suicide they leave without supplying answers. There are questions that will never be answered, and you must learn to accept this mystery. Instead of focusing on why someone did what they did, focus on mourning in a healthy way.

Anger and bad memories are normal

Feelings of anger are common even in the mildest cases of grief. Following a suicide, however, these feelings of anger and abandonment may be heightened even more. Also, due to the circumstances of a suicide, those grieving may experience the negative memories surrounding the suicide and forget the more positive memories and experiences of the person who passed away. The most important step you can take when experiencing these feelings is too fully experience You must comprehend and accept your negative feelings before moving on to more positive memories.

Invest in yourself and be patient

It’s natural to feel guilty after a friend or loved one dies by suicide. You may feel like you missed a warning sign, or that you could have done something different that would have changed the outcome. It’s important to understand that you were not the only influence on the person’s life, and there are limits to your power and responsibility. Learn to forgive yourself and be patient with the process.

Learn to rely on others

Just as any other cycle of grief, the pain you experience after losing someone to suicide may cause you to put your life on hold. It may force you to change your routines, behaviors, and may just disrupt your life in general. It’s natural to feel flustered by new responsibilities, or even isolated by your grief. One way to help with both of these feelings is by learning to rely on others. Whether it’s a family member or close friend, reaching out to others for help and guidance during your time of need is a healthy and proactive way to work through your grief.

The tragedy of suicide is one that can be prevented in certain cases. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please know that there is help available. Please call the hotline number listed below, or share how you’re feeling with a trusted family member or friend. You are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Post written by Katie Karpinski 

Information gathered from Bearing the Special Grief of Suicide by Arnaldo Pangrazzi

My Internship at the Catholic Cemeteries Association: Marketing the Word of God

During my 9 weeks at the Catholic Cemeteries Association I have learned a great deal regarding marketing in terms of data driven decision making, advertising, brand promotion, customer engagement strategies and much more. I have frequently been asked by friends and family what I am doing this summer and I always respond “I am an intern at the Catholic Cemeteries Association.” The first response tends to be, “doing… what?” Which is honestly the first question I asked in my interview with the CCA. I always respond, “I help the marketing team with tasks to help build awareness.”

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Antonio Vuyancih was selected to participate in the Catholic Community Connection 2018 Summer Fellowship Program. He was placed at the Catholic Cemeteries Association to assist in marketing and outreach activities. 

To start, I have learned more about marketing than I have in any other setting. The CCA has provided for me real tasks which are of high importance to the association. We are a small association, which means every minor detail can have a large impact. The margin for error is low and the opportunity for impact is high. Katie Karpinski is my supervisor and an extremely talented one at that. Katie, only a year older than I has helped spearhead marketing at the CCA and her work here is certainly not going unnoticed. She has provided me with work and responsibilities which I know I will utilize in my future endeavors.

Every day, I am greeted by people such as Rhonda Abrams, our Bereavement coordinator, who is filled with nothing but inspiration, or Chad, one of our Family Service Representatives who interacts with grief-stricken families, parents, and individuals every day, yet always has the energy and light to make them and his colleagues smile. There is also Barb Palumbo, who noted in our initial phone interview that I went to St. Edward High School and her two sons both attended St. Ignatius High School. I laughed and replied jokingly, “Hmm… I’m probably not getting this job, am I?” Barb always finds time in her busy schedule to make her way over to the small corner office I share with Katie to see how I am doing and it is always appreciated. There’s much more I could write about those who work at Calvary Cemetery who consistently amaze me with their diligence and joy. I think it goes without saying, working at a cemetery can be tough. Many opinions of cemeteries are skewed to think that a cemetery is a place of sorrow. However, here at the Catholic Cemeteries Association we know that our cemeteries are a place of faith, hope, and remembrance!

Recently, I have had the pleasure of spending more time around our CEO, Andrej Lah. Andrej is truly an interesting man. He’s serious, direct, and exceptionally inspiring. I can recall a handful of times when Andrej was speaking and I was trying to take notes, but simply set down my pen and notebook and took in all he had to say. His will to speak of tragic stories and still manifest the grace of God in these situations can only be described as captivating. His knowledge of the Catholic faith and the church’s teachings provide him the ability to profoundly express the strength he has in his faith.

When my coworkers walk through the door they do so because of a calling they respond to every morning. I never thought I could enjoy driving into a cemetery every morning and working 8:30AM-4:30PM, but I truly do. Lately, as I awake to my alarm clock early in the day I have felt something that makes me want to clock in at work and give my best effort in building awareness of the Catholic Cemeteries, an extension of the church, to the best of my ability.

I have come to realize in my time at the Catholic Cemeteries Association that the work conducted here is more than helping families find the perfect place to enshrine the memories of their beloved or offer bereavement seminars to help anguished families. The marketing, sales, and IT departments do more than draw attention to or market for the CCA. Every day this team of extraordinary people help each other and the church in building awareness for the WORD of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

“A Prayer For Fishers Of Men”

Father, it is during times of discouragement, bewilderment, or delay that we find ourselves more attentive to godly instruction.  It seems our hearts are more yielded and our minds more absorbing of the truths You want to convey when we’re no longer trying to take charge.  Like the disciples who were fishing in the usual way expecting the usual results we also relate to such efforts.  But You are extraordinary and You do extraordinary work in our lives as we yield our will to Yours and heed Your instruction. Shape us into the most useful and enduring vessel that brings glory to You while we cast our nets for the great catch of men and women, boys and girls for the kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Prayer by: A Daily Prayer: The daily prayer from Daily Encouragement Net 
Post written by Antonio Vuyancih

 

Understanding the Attributes of God During Times of Grief

Everyone views God in a different light. For some, God the Father provides the most comfort and guidance with His all-knowing wisdom and never-ending power. For others, Jesus Christ and His deep compassion and connection to humanity make Him most approachable. And even still there are those who prefer speaking with the calm and gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. The Catholic faith is beautiful in that, while we only worship one true God, there are these three Persons we can interact with, and each may speak to us in different ways. These three parts all have unique attributes and it’s from these attributes of God that we can derive comfort, support and guidance. Keep reading to learn more about how understanding God’s attributes can help you progress along your grief journey.

Understanding the Attributes of God during times of Grief

God is Omnipresent and Omniscient

While grieving, it’s common to feel isolated and alone. Grief is particular and specific to the individual, which makes the pain hard to talk about with others. Despite how alone you may feel at times, remember that God is always with you. He is all-present and all-knowing. He knows the thoughts, sorrows, and desires of your heart intimately. When you feel most alone, take heart in knowing the Heavenly Father knows exactly how you feel, and will never leave you or forsake you.

You will seek me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

God is Kind

Losing a loved one can feel like a betrayal. God places family and friends in our lives and then takes them away just as easily. It’s easy to become upset and angry with God but, as scripture proves to us, God is not of ill-intent. He treats all of His children with kindness and everything He does is within our best interests. Remembering this in times of great hardship is key to discovering blessings within the depths of deep despair. God does nothing to cause us pain. Rather, He places challenges in our lives to make us stronger and help us grow closer to Him.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. – Psalm 103:8  

God is Merciful

Part of the struggle of grieving is not knowing the fate of loved ones. There’s no way we can know exactly what follows death. While scripture and Catholic teaching can give us some idea, this uncertainty can augment our grief even more. While this may be frustrating, one thing we know for certain is that God is merciful. He brings each and every one of us into this world and He is there to guide us into His heavenly kingdom. He owes us nothing, but through His never-ending mercy we are all saved. Recognize that, no matter how spiritual or devoted your loved one was or wasn’t, they are resting in God’s eternal and merciful care.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing and rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:5  

God is Loving

The people we hold closest to us are often the same ones who provide us with the most love and support in our life.  Therefore, when a loved one passes from this world, it’s common to feel an absence of love and comfort in your life. While it may be true that earthly love may diminish, heavenly love is eternal. The love you share with your departed family members and friends is never-ending. Even through death, you can share that special connection with them. Even more so, God holds unique and passionate love with each and every one of us. His love is unlike anything else in this world. In times when you feel most lonely, remember that God loves you always.

His love and faithfulness will last forever. – Psalm 100:5

God is perfect

Death does not discriminate. It does not follow any rules. It often isn’t fair and comes at inopportune times. Death is a confusing and unpredictable occurrence here on Earth, which makes it not only scary, but extremely frustrating and disheartening. While we may never fully understand death, we do understand that God and His plan are perfect. We will never be able to predict death or comprehend when or why it happens. We’re not supposed to. Instead, we should be focused on trusting in God’s plan for us. Calling to mind the traits He possesses—being all present, kind, merciful, loving, and perfect —it’s clear His plan is what’s best for us and our eternal salvation.

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without justice, Righteous and upright is He. – Deuteronomy 32:4

Are you interested in attending a support group? Click here for more information.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Meaningful Music: OVERCOMER by Mandisa

Sometimes life can just be overwhelming. While God constantly graces us with blessings, He also exposes us to challenges and times of struggle to help us grow and develop as faithful followers. We know that God does everything in our best interest but everyone can use a little extra support and encouragement when these hard times come our way. Mandisa, an award-winning Christian artist, provides such comfort through her music. Her song “Overcomer” has been on the top of Christian charts for over five years and it’s no question why! Her words of encouragement and truth for those undergoing hardship is enough to lighten anyone’s mood.

mandisa overcomer
Photo Credit 

The song’s verses speak to the universal feeling of being worn down and distraught by the challenges God places in our path:

Everybody’s been down

Hit the bottom, hit the ground

However, Mandisa reminds us that we are not called to overcome these challenges alone. God has promised each of us His help and intervention. He will never put us in a situation that we cannot handle:

Ooh, you’re not alone

Just take a breath, don’t forget

Hang on to his promises

He wants you to know

Whatever it is you may be going through

I know he’s not gonna let it get the best of you

Knowing that God is constantly on our side, our struggles, conflicts, and problems seem to shrink. God is gracious enough to give us the strength, power, and courage we need to accomplish anything. Mandisa sings of this power as she dubs us all “Overcomers”:

You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ’til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment

Feeling like it’s hopeless

That’s when he reminds you

That you’re an overcomer

You’re an overcomer

Next time you find yourself in a situation beyond your control, take a moment and re-center your focus on Christ. With His help you can do anything!

Listen to the full song here:

Want to hear more from Mandisa? Make sure to attend the FEST (a free and family-friendly event!) on August 5, 2018 to see Mandisa live! And don’t forget while you’re there to visit the Catholic Cemeteries Association booth to receive a free snow cone and complimentary family photo!

Post written by Katie Karpinski