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The Journey Through Grief View Comments
By Judy Esway

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. —1 Thes 4:13–14

BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH in the Resurrection, is it realistic for Catholics to expect to grieve differently from those who have no hope? In my experience as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor, I would have to say yes, but don’t expect the pain to be any less intense.

As long as we’re human, we don’t get a free pass. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. I often remind people of that, especially those who say things like, “I thought I’d be stronger. I know he’s with the Lord,” or, “My wife and I were daily communicants. I shouldn’t be crying like this every night,” or, “It’s been two months. Shouldn’t I be over this by now? I’ve always had strong faith.”

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Judy Esway is recently retired from her work as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor. She holds a master’s degree in theology and is certified in thanatology. She has had four books and dozens of articles published in the national Catholic press. She and her husband live in Canton, Ohio.

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Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
<p>Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.
</p><p>His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.
</p><p>Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.</p> American Catholic Blog Life is not always happy, but our connections to others can create a simple and grace-filled quiet celebration of our own and others’ lives. These others are the presence of Christ in our lives.


 
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