Dealing with Grief and Loss

Grief is an odd thing. It has its own rules that are dependent on variables no one really understands and that seem to change with each passing day. Some days I can walk past the memory and I’m fine – I don’t skip a beat. Other days – or even just an hour later – I glance into the pain and the sadness is so thick it’s like a dust cloud that takes over without warning.Those dust cloud days are when my heart aches and smiles hurt. They are the days when I don’t want to talk because there don’t seem to be any words that fit…they’ve all been used up.We all seem to be feeling a little war torn. We wonder – when the dust settles, what will the landscape look like? Will we recognize it? Will anything be the same? There is one thing we must hold onto. We aren’t buried. We still live life and move through each day finding the joy in it. We just have a big gap, a void, that we aren’t quite sure how to fill yet. We wait patiently, and a little impatiently, to see what happens when the dust settles.

We aren’t called to live half lives. We are called to live fully, love wholeheartedly, and be present.

Whenever I feel grief and cannot find comfort no matter how much I try to deny, busy myself, or wallow, I think of Mother Mary. Mary, Mother of Sorrows is the best person to turn to as she is the patron of grief.

When we are overwhelmed with grief (whether it is from a dead or sick loved one, a tragic breakup, or a painful fight with a friend), we can turn to Mary, Mother of Jesus for help in our suffering. Throughout her life, she endured much pain and sorrow and is fully able to empathize with anyone’s personal anguish. She endured the shame of being pregnant and unmarried, being poor, homeless and having her only son unjustly imprisoned and executed.  Mary knew what was to befall her son yet had to see these events from God’s point of view and have faith that this was all for the greater good.

By meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, a devotion from the Middle Ages, which uses scenes from the life of the Virgin Mother as a meditation on accepting the sorrowful part of life with grace, we can also relate our suffering to our Mother’s suffering.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:

1) The Prophecy of Simeon: As a young child, when his parents presented him in the temple, Jesus was met by the holy man Simeon who predicted everything that would happen to him in his address to Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce so that thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35).

2) The Flight into Egypt: In Bethlehem, after the birth of Christ, Joseph had a vision of an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of any male child under the age of two by King Herod in order to prevent the coming Messiah. The Holy Family had to travel a secretive route to Egypt and remain in that country until Herod died. Marynot only worried for the welfare of her own son but mourn for the murdered children left behind.

3) The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple: While on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the 12 year old Jesus vanished from his family. His heartsick parents finally found him three days later, arguing with elders in the temple.

4) The Meeting of Jesus with His Cross: Mary watched helplessly as her son was ridiculed and mocked as he stumbled, carrying the cross he was to be executed on.

5) The Crucifixion: As he was nailed to the cross, most of his disciples ran away. Mary never wavered as she stood at the foot of the cross, witnessing her son’s agony and death.

6) Jesus Taken Down from the Cross: Mary held her dead son’s wound covered body. This, her greatest sorrow is known as the “Pieta”.

7) The Burial of Jesus: As the stone was rolled, closing up his tomb, Mary had to say her final goodbye to her earthly son. Her faith had to be sincerely tested as there was no hint of the resurrection to come.

Mother Mary pray for us!