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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
June 12, 1998     The Message
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June 12, 1998

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908 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 B. REYNOLDS Catholic News Service eyeof the grieving storm Iooldng out than 10 years my parish .... on Chicago's northwest been inviting people to departed loved ones by liturgy associated of the service are simple altar a shrine is estab- a focal point of the The shrine consists of a the parish's death reg- and several vases of to symbolize the living. family members enter the greeted and offered one 3ns to symbolize passed away in the some cases. ihomily the names of the read in the order of the and a candle is lit dur- of silence between each are invited to come i their white carnations and I in the red carnation vases, our continued unity we care about even after the opportunity to aid in /s for the mourners, of their stories, !really know their hearts. suddenly three everything changed. No outside looking in. I grieving storm and I discovered what a sad Iplace it can be. is disabled and needs to live with us short- death. We never spoke with it, I sup- OWn terms. Often Dad "Jean! Jean!" and refer to her in ways that made me believe he thought she was still alive. Several months later I received a call from my parish asking if I would like my mother to be remembered at the upcom- ing grieving liturgy. This surprised me because she wasn't buried from there or registered there. "Uh, yes, that would be nice," I think I said, and went about trying to tell Dad what to expect. I kept an eye on my father throughout the service to see how he was doing. He remained emotionless as I stepped forward with our carnation when the March names were called, but upon returning to his side I could see -- even by the way he sat in his wheelchair --that he had at least some handle on the solemn proceedings. After the last candle was lit and all the white and red carnations had been brought together, Dad looked at me with tears in his eyes and said simply, "I miss her." It was the first time I had seen him cry since Mom,s passing, and it prompted my own eyes to mist as I responded, "I miss her, too.,. Ours weren,t th e ,Q!y tears in the house. I used to view mourning as a private passage, and to a certain extent it is. But if a path is revealed in walking it, then the St. Constance parish family has given me a new compass for the journey. They have taught me m as the disci- ples learned on their way to Emmaus that a little company along the road can be a good thing. Reynolds is a free-lance writer in Chica- go, Ill. Marketplace discussion point: will he comforted, it is written. How did you or your parish mourned? that contacts the family a few weeks after the or simply gives support. We also have a Stephen's Min- parishioners who offer a more extensive support ministry. need more in-depth counseling, they can come into our counseling ' two trained counselors, available on a sliding scale of pay." Kay Moczygemba, San Antonio, Texas arvelous Befrienders Ministry for people who are mourning. It and a telephone call after the bereavement. It's a one-on-one min- a lot of training and also uses their own background as a friendship, becoming friends with the bereaved, and stay as long as they are needed." D Joann Callaway, San Jose, Calif. several services: immediate grief counseling by the which is a home visitation, listening ministry; we every three months dealing with grief, and we have an group.., in conjunction with the local hospital." Will Schafer, Fort Dodge, Iowa edition asks: Do you have a favorite book or passage of the Old to often? respond for sible publication, please write: Faith Alive! 3211 Fourth D.C. 20017-1100. "I used to view mourning as a private pas- sage .... but.., a little company along the road can be a good thing,'rites John B. Reynolds. CNS photo by Frank Methe Blessed .......... ............ ......... Continued from page 8 lot of back-and-forth between our weeping and taking up a new life. Only slowly does a resolution occur. St. Jane de Chantal (1572-1641), griev- ing over the death of her husband in a was almost speechless. We need the Father Doughertys of this world to listen and to be present to us. The presence of people who care and who will listen to us is vital in the heal- ing process. Talking out our grief can be hunting accident, only gradually came very therapeutic. We need to "visit our 'to accept the Idss H6 aniSh sb'lpla '  '  " great that for a number of years she had trouble speaking to the man whose gun had misfired. Later they were complete- ly reconciled. In this process of reconciliation, the support of others is important. We need others to be with us. I will always remember the story a friend of my parents told about my boy- hood pastor, Father Dougherty. He was a good-hearted man, thought to be saintly by many parishioners. Yet he was a man of few words. Once Father Dougherty came to the friend's house to express his condolences at the time of a death in the family. But the priest had few words to say. The mourners had to think of things to say to him when he decided to stay awhile! Focusing on someone else most prob- ably did them good. They knew Father's heart was in the right place and that he would do anything for them, though he in order to mourn our loss. Actually these others really need to say very, little. The blessing to us is in their presence. As people of faith, we take our mourn- ing to prayer. God is with us even when, in our distress, we sometimes don't feel that is so. In mourning we may have a multitude of words or prayers to say. Or we may have no words to say, only feeling able to sit mutely in God's presence. Our best prayer in grief may take the form simply of being in the presence of God. In time, God speaks words of peace to us. God blesses and comforts those who mourn. Oblate Father Crossin is a visiting fellaw at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. He is the mlthor of Growth." Paulist Press. We know with confidence from the Beatitudes that God blesses people when they mourn. But sometimes it is difficult to feel confident that we ourselves constitute a "blessing" for those who mourn. Our sense of being at a loss after a death D What to say? What to do?  can be so great! What kind of a "blessing" can we be to tho who mourn? First, we can't do magic. Those who mourn may experience a devastating sense of loneliness and sorrow; anxiety over changes yet to come in their lives may be Wrenching. If someone died violently or young, those who mourn may feel stunned, confused, angry. We can't "fix" these feelings. Second, however, we can be companions to those who umun They don't deserve to be abandoned. Our presence, our willingness to listen when they want to talk, may prove our best "bleming" to them. Finally, while we may wonder whether we represent much of a "blessing' to those who mourn, w e can learn to recognize that they nainly are a bless ing to us. And we can thank them for their presence in our lives, which helps to stretch and expand the spirit within us, David Gibson Fito Faith Alive!