The gamut of emotions that family members and friends feel upon the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. Although mourning death is not an easy proposition, it is a necessary step in the bereavement process, said Sister Betty Gulick, Director of Pastoral Services at The Village at Marymount.
Sorrow, loneliness, depression, guilt, anger and helplessness are additional feelings that can affect someone who is grief-stricken. Each one of these feelings can drain a person of their ability to function properly while going about their daily routine.
“The goal of grieving well is to help ourselves move through a difficult time of life as best we can given the circumstances,” Sister Betty said. “It takes time and we need to have patience with ourselves as we grieve at our own pace.”
Sister Betty said it is important to face grief and not to run from the feelings and emotions experienced after a loved one’s death. Facing pain allows a person to work through the grief, and to admit to themselves how deeply the loss affects them. We may need to seek support from others who have been there, she added.
Praying is another key step in the grieving process, said Sister Mary Alice Jarosz, The Village at Marymount’s Mission Integration Coordinator.
“Take the time to pray, even if it means being angry with God and sitting with him in silence,” Sister Mary Alice said. “He is there for you. He said to us many times ‘I am with you always.’ As time passes, look back on the small accomplishments you have achieved over the past few months. The loss of a loved one never goes away. The memories of your loved one will become your source of joy.”
Giving a gift to a friend or a loved one who is mourning a death is another way to show love and support, Sister Mary Alice said. Special gifts chosen from the heart usually provide the most comfort and compassion. A simple white long-stemmed rose shows you really care about someone, she said.
During November, the Catholic church remembers friends and family members who have died. Memorial services are held in parishes to honor those who died within the past year. Nov. 2 is All Souls Day, at which time Masses are celebrated to pray for all who have gone before us, Sister Betty added.
“There are many spiritual or religious issues a person may face and struggle with after a loved one’s death,” Sister Betty said. “Meaning and purpose, guilt and forgiveness, or loss of faith are some of these issues. We need to offer thoughtful spiritual support and offer the person a comforting presence. Listen with an open heart.”