An Open Letter to Those Who are Grieving …

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:10

This has been a week.

On Sunday, a mom in our community … a young mom (she would have been 32 on Saturday) with 4 children and a loving husband .. a mom who was 21 weeks along with her fifth child … was stung by swarming bees and died on Monday, July 28th of complications brought on by anaphylaxis. [Should you wish to donate to the care and support of Sarah’s children, here is a link to a fund that her brother created.]

The angst and sorrow within our community is palpable.

This was Monday evening.

On Tuesday morning … our parish community was rocked with the news that our beloved friend, Fr. Patrick Isaacs, a dear priest from India, died of heart failure in the early morning hours. He was last with us a week ago, visiting and attending Mass at the age of 91. Fr. Patrick made semi-annual trips from India to our Parish (and a neighboring parish) to fund-raise for his fight against women’s abuse in his beloved India; he created and ran a home for battered women and their children … a place of refuge for those who were trying to escape the acknowledged and accepted practice of abuse in the male-dominated culture of India.

Looking at Fr. Patrick was once described as “looking into the eyes of a saint”.

The angst and sorrow within our community is palpable.

This was Tuesday.

We are now at Thursday evening … wakes and funerals have been organized … funds for Sarah’s family have been created … all is starting to return to normality. But a normality without Sarah and her in utero baby, Cecilia … without Fr. Patrick’s semi-annual visits …

There are times when life really does just suck. Many are feeling bereft … many are feeling desolation … many are feeling anger.

And that is right and good. We should miss these beautiful creatures who have left us.

But, as Catholics, we are an Easter people … we know that there is the promise of a resurrection for Sarah and Baby Cecilia and Fr. Patrick. Those who knew these people, know that they are in a much better place than we are now.

But what of us?

There is honestly nothing more devastating than the loss of a loved-one … whether a grandparent … a parent … a sibling … a spouse … a child.


Death comes with a finality that makes you wake in the middle of the night to voice your anger to God … it comes with a hollow in your heart that takes time to fill (maybe even more time than we have on this earthly plane). You’ll find yourself cursing God and crying out to God for help … all at the same time.

I know … I know because I’ve experienced grandparents dying including watching my beloved grandmother have a near-fatal heart attack at our dinner table one Palm Sunday when I was 11 … I’ve seen my father in the last throes of life, begging for Jesus and Mary to come take him … I’ve watched my husband 4 days after his 31st birthday succumb to cancer, leaving me with a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old baby.

Where was God?

The answer of course is that God is always there .. He is there to walk with us … to pick us up … to carry us through all the fearful and distressing parts of life. And, as Catholics, we KNOW that God will prevail … that we are only at a mid-point in our journey … that there is more and much better to come.

To all those who are grieving: please, don’t let anyone tell you how to grief … don’t let anyone make you feel bad that you are sad .. or mad .. or numb. That you want to rail at God or ask each other for help and comfort. Each of us has to deal with grief in different ways … ways that are right for us in this place at this time. Share the stories of Sarah and Fr. Patrick … remember the joys and the sorrows they brought to each of us.

But, please also always remember that God is in His Heaven and ALL is right with the world. That there is the proverbial silver-lining … and that the grief may never pass away completely but that God is there to help us through the pain.

Prayers and hugs and more prayers for all of us.

One Response to “An Open Letter to Those Who are Grieving …”
  1. Elizabeth says:

    Have been praying ever since I got word of Sarah being ill. Thank God as Christians we can pray. Thank God that we who are either Catholic (like you) or Orthodox (like me) or other Christians who share the knowing: we can and do pray for the departed. So prayers for all are being said here daily in our home and candles are burning day and night for them.
    Grief, I was thinking about, always triggers our own personal griefs, as if one grief is on top of the other. It seems you too have had grief, real and difficult.
    It is very hard; the grieving; the loving those in grief; knowing when to be close in grief, when to keep praying but allow space needed for the one in grief.
    Christ IS Risen but He knows the agony of the Cross. But by His death he has defeated death and we look towards the Resurrection of the dead and life to come.

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