Category Archives: Grief

Happy 100th, Mom!

An annual ritual here of wishing my Mom a happy birthday. Today would have been her 100th. She passed away on November 7th, 2005.

Her death hit me rather hard, despite being expected. “Anticipatory grief” does not prepare you for the real thing. At least, it didn’t do so for me.

This isn’t going to be some long, poetic, inspirational post on Moms and losing them. Any such stuff will remain private for the time being. I do have a novel-in-progress that deals with that, although it is on a back burner dimly lit.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The Four Last Things on YouTube

Like its sister blog, Sober Catholic, this blog now has an “expanded presence” online: a YouTube Channel. See:

The Four Last Things – YouTube.

I have not, nor am likely to in the near future, upload videos. But I have added a number of videos that might be of interest to readers, mostly country music videos some very sentimental stuff. I do not have anything of a Catholic nature just yet. But I hope to start finding good Catholic catechesis on YouTube and add those when I find any. If you happen to know of good Catholic videos on the Four Last Things or grief, please post links to them in the comments section here or on the discussion area of the Four Last Things Channel.

So, wander on over there and see what’s available and perhaps you can not only subscribe to the Four Last Things Channel, but to any subscriptions that are there now or to come.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

The stark realization that it could all end

I think that one reason why we feel pain when someone dies, be it person or pet, is that the pain of the loss connects us to the reality that there is more to life than just the “here and now.” Someone was here, is now gone, and we can’t just visit them or email or connect with them online. No phone calling. They’re gone. There may be “something more,” and at a level that differs amongst all of us dependent upon the depth of our spirituality and religiosity. And if you don’t believe in an afterlife, then oblivion awaits and that scares you. The result from either belief is numbing and expressed through sorrow over the loss. For believers, we long to cross that chasm because we just know that the “something more” is better than the “here and now.”

The stark realization that it could all end….

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Death sucks.

Death sucks.

Someone, be they a human person or an animal person, is in your life for years, then they’re not. And it’s not like they moved to some far off strange place like California, where you can still email, Skype or Facebook with them. The distance they travelled is measured not in miles or kilometers. But in time.

It’s a wide chasm. We may take a few more years or decades to get to the point where we can cross it. That is a part of the chasm separating those on the other side from us. But forgetting the amount of time between now and when we die, that chasm is just huge. They’re in eternity. We’re not.

But there’s a hole left behind. That space in your life that they filled is now empty. They are no longer there. That space can’t be filled by anyone else.

This post was caused by the death of our cat, “Mr. Onyx,” whom I nicknamed “SpeedBump.” He died this morning. He’s the black kitteh in the picture. The cutie on the right is his girlfriend, Jerrie. Nice headshot of him is right after.

544667_3854786851638_1870062027_n

1480668_10203191356327747_2105585139_n

 

I nicknamed Mr. Onyx, “SpeedBump,” after his penchant for laying right between wherever anyone was sitting and wherever a doorway is, as well as slowly walking down the hallway before you.

We don’t know how old he was as we didn’t get him as a kitten. His previous human died from cancer and untreated alcoholism and we took him in as no one else could.

He lived with my wife and I for almost exactly 6 years.

He is survived by two other kittehs, Jerrie and Ninja.

He had an amazing impact on our lives, bringing much joy, love and FUN into them.

We will bury him in a Mary Garden, next to our house, and we’ll plant stuff around him that would attract the birds and bunnies he so loved to watch from the patio window.

Where are our beloved pets, after their death? That is for another post. But Mr. Onyx’s death is really hitting me. The death of a pet in not inconsequential.

Pets matter.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

On this date in 1995 my father died

Feeling a little more melancholic than usual, perhaps as this is the 18th anniversary of my Father’s death. So, a repost.

NOTE: This is reposted from an earlier date:

On this date in 1995 my father died.

He and I weren’t very close, (“fathers and sons …”) generational and attitudinal differences separated us.

As a result, I didn’t really grieve over his death. I mean, I was saddened and did feel the loss, but I wasn’t ripped apart by his death like I was over my Mom’s 10 years later.

This relative lack of impact was aided by the fact that I was 2,500 miles away and hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

I went home for his funeral, and reconnected with the family, but when I returned home to California I continued life as usual. I had started drinking heavily to cope with life’s problems a year before (failed romance) and my drinking picked up a little more upon my return, so that may have softened the need to grieve in a sober manner.

The point of this is that although I wasn’t too close to Dad during his life, I am much closer to him now. That would seem strange to non-Catholics, but for believers with a knowledge of the Communion of Saints, that shouldn’t seem strange at all.

Death doesn’t end a life. Death is just a passage from this life to another. This life is temporary, everything “is”, and then passes away to dust and a dim memory. The life after is eternal. Whether that life is spent in Heaven or Hell depends on what you do in your Earthly life.

There is a connection between those of us still here on Earth and those deceased. It is called, as I referenced in a previous paragraph, the Communion of Saints . (Via New Advent.) This is comprised of the “Church Militant” (those still on Earth), the “Church Suffering” (those in Purgatory) and the “Church Triumphant” (those in Heaven). Only the souls that have damned themselves to Hell are excluded.

“Communion” implies a community, wherein the members still can relate to one another. This relation is conducted by the means of prayer. We pray to the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering for their intercessory power with God. We can somehow sense their presence (although admittedly that “sensing” may be wishful thinking).

They are there to help, comfort and console us. We are separated from them by the chasm of death, but that chasm can be crossed eventually by our own deathly passage.

I said earlier in this post that I am much closer to Dad now than while he was alive. I have grown to be much like him, at least with regard to the practice of my Catholic Faith. (I still haven’t taken up woodworking as a hobby, nor returned to fishing as a pastime, but may in time. I do enjoy yardwork, like he did, and love baseball, too.) I understand him better as the years progress and as I grow older.

To anyone who has lost a parent (or anyone beloved) to death, fear not. They are not gone from you permanently. Consider them as just having moved far away, and the distance you need to travel to meet with them again will take the rest of your life.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Twenty-five years

Twenty-five years ago today, on March 19, 1988, my sister died. She had fought a battle with cancer and lost. Nowadays she probably might have been a survivor, but with the treatment available in the 1980s, no.

I was living in Washington, DC at the time, and when I heard the news I got numb.It was my first real experience with someone dying. There had been family members who had died before her, but they had all been people more distant from me, no one in my litany of siblings, now lacking a name.

I left my apartment and wandered around downtown DC. The streets were deserted, at 2 or 3 AM people were long gone. A city, deserted.

I had planned on visiting her grave either yesterday (for the “vigil”) or today, but various circumstances and commitments prevent this. I will have to make a trip later, perhaps in a few weeks after Easter.

Nothing much else to say, I just had to make note of it, here.

She is missed.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today my Mom would have been 97. She passed away in November 2005.

As usual, it is a day of melancholy for me. I miss her, but I also am grateful that my Catholic faith tells me that our relationship isn’t dead, just because she is gone from the word. I believe that she is in Heaven. Perhaps she is in Purgatory, but I feel she passed through quickly, as much as the passage of time has any meaning there. As a result, I feel as if I can still connect with her through prayer and the Mass. And I long for the day when we can be reunited. (My usual disclaimer, not being morbid or suicidal, I just long for the day when I can go Home.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Mother’s Day and Polkas

I noticed on my Facebook that there are a few people who are who are experiencing their first Mother’s Day without their Mom. Prayers ascending for them…

On my first Mother’s Day without mine, I did an odd thing. When I was growing up, Mom played polka music every Sunday before Mass. I lived in central New York State, and there were a number of ethnic radio programs from the various Syracuse, Utica and Rome stations. With a relatively large Polish-American populatiion, there were a few hours of polka programming each Sunday.

Mom used to wake me up to that way. Like clockwork, every Sunday at 8:30AM I’d be contentedly sleeping in my bed, and then WHAMMO!!!!, flung a few feet in the air to the riotous sounds of “In Heaven There is No Beer, That’s Why We Drink it Here,”  “Roll Out the Barrel,”  “I Don’t Want Her You Can Have Her, She’s too Fat for Me,” and various other classic polka tuneskis.

Needless to say I grew to dislike polka music. Until 2006, my first Mother’s Day without Mom. I felt compelled to hunt down a radio station that played polka music. As I now live in the Buffalo, New York area, with a larger Polish-American population than central New York has, it wasn’t hard.

And so on that Mother’s Day, I listened to polka music for the first time in over a quarter century. And…

…I liked it! It was nostalgic for me and also therapuetic. The healing process that I needed after her death in November 2005 was really helped along.

Polka music is routinely derided and dismissed by people. But, screw ’em. It is toe-tappin’ “happy music.” A great cure for depression. So, it all sounds the same. So does rap and  pop.

I think I’ll go to the living room, turn on the stereo, and blast a local polka station. My wife is still sleeping, so it might wake her up! I’m sure she’ll appreciate the old family tradition. 😉

Later…

 

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Withdraw to a deserted place

Matthew 14:13: When Jesus heard of it (the death of John the Baptist), he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.

(Via USCCB.)

In this excerpt from the Gospel Reading from today’s Mass (18th Sunday in Ordinary Time) Jesus was saddened by the death of John the Baptist. the Son of God felt the loss of His cousin and grieved. He needed to withdraw, be alone and more than likely spent the time in prayer and meditation.

The fact that Jesus needed to grieve over His loss is a hope to those of us who have lost loved ones to the separation of death. We are not alone, in what can be the loneliest of times for those who continue on.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

Blessed are they who mourn

An excerpt from the Gospel for today Mass on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time has comforting words for those suffering the loss of a loved one:

Matthew 5:4:”Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

We are reminded in Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: “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.”

(Via USCCB.)

We who have lost loved ones to death are to not be sorrowful like those who have no hope in the afterlife. We shall be comforted, either by our hopeful reunion with them in Heaven, our by our realization that they are not really separated from us forever. They are still a part of our lives, for death only separates them from us by time. Time passes, and just as those who have gone on before us have travelled through the passage of death into the afterlife, we shall hopefully follow.

We yearn for them. We miss them. We long to be with them. Let this yearning be a way to burn away here on Earth the sinful tendencies of our lives which only increases our separation from them, and from God.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"