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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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Th&eacute;r&egrave;se of Lisieux: "I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." These are the words of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the "Little Flower," who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. (In French-speaking areas, she is known as Thérèse of Lisieux.) And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, <i>The Story of a Soul</i>, is read and loved throughout the world. Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. She was canonized in 1925, and two years later she and St. Francis Xavier were declared co-patrons of the missions. 
<p>Life in a Carmelite convent is indeed uneventful and consists mainly of prayer and hard domestic work. But Thérèse possessed that holy insight that redeems the time, however dull that time may be. She saw in quiet suffering redemptive suffering, suffering that was indeed her apostolate. Thérèse said she came to the Carmel convent "to save souls and pray for priests." And shortly before she died, she wrote: "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth." </p><p>On October 19, 1997, Saint John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized, in light of her holiness and the influence on the Church of her teaching on spirituality. Her parents, Louis and Zélie were beatified in 2008.</p> American Catholic Blog How glorious, how holy and wonderful it is to have a Father in Heaven.

 
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