Category Archives: Grief

When I get to where I’m (hopefully) going…

I miss my Mom and Dad. And a bunch of others.

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"

Mom’s who are no longer among us

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"

November 7th: a Death and a Rebirth, Part 2

Earlier today I wrote Part 1 of this post.

This “rebirth” part is difficult to write, as the birth pangs were years-long, torturous and the result (which is still developing, in a way) was inconceivable at the beginning.

The rebirth was in essence that of a “new me” slowly being born. Not in the born-again context of Evangelical Christians but in that a large part of me died when Mom did, and out of the ashes of that life a new person arose.

The symbolism of this was apparent when I went through grief counseling and I discovered major parallels between that and alcohol recovery work. Just as I am being reborn during my recovery from alcoholism, so I was experiencing a rebirth in trying to establish a “new normal” without Mom around.

The “new normal” is a term in grief work which means that you have to establish a new rhythm to your life without the deceased in it. The dead person was a part of your life, and that person is no longer in it in a physical manner. A part of you is now missing and somehow you have to account for the missing piece. How will you go on living now? What will pass for “normal?” What will the new “ordinary life” look like and how will you get there?

It wasn’t easy. I had wanted to die. I felt that my mission in life was over now that Mom was gone. I didn’t consider myself particularly good at anything and so I thought I existed to care for Mom when she got old. I prayed for death. Not in a suicidal wish, just that God would take me home.

The Lord had other plans. He stomped on me and put the crushed me through a wine press. The fermentation process took a few years and various people came and went while seeing me through it.

And “through it” was key. You have to go through grief, work through it for if you avoid or defer it you will suffer greatly later on. Much like a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t completely clean up their past or face resentments. You refuse to deal with things, then they will deal with you.

And I trudged on, through the grief and the soul-scorching aloneness I felt.

As I said three paragraphs ago, various people came and went through my initial period of griefwork. All served a purpose and I was grateful to them. But stability was not a crowning achievement of my life in those days. I felt as if I was living in quicksand.

More, later today or early tomorrow in Part 3.

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"

November 7th: a Death and a Rebirth, Part 1

Tomorrow, November 7th, will be the 5th anniversary of my Mom’s death.

Today in 2005 was her last full day alive on Earth. I sensed it would be as she lay in her hospital bed not responsive to eating or drinking anything. Her energy levels just seemed markedly lower than in previous days. The day before, November 5th, she seemed brighter and more vital, relatively speaking. There was a family reunion in her hospital room as my siblings, her grandchildren and in-laws, some whom she hadn’t seen in many years gathered about.

Once the family reconnection was over, it looked as though she was comfortable with all that. She saw her people.

There was a storm in town that night, and a major power outage in the area, so I spent the night in her hospital room as the old house of hers was darkened. There was little point in staying there and the hospital had generator power, so…

If I recall correctly, she drifted in and out of sleep all night long. She was not communicative anyway.

About 6:25 AM the nurses arrived for her morning vitals and such, and I saw outside that power was restored to the town so I decided to go back to the house to wash up and have breakfast.

At 6:28 AM I leaned over her bed and told her that, along with the news that I’ll be back in an an hour or so.

And then I said “I love you, Mom.”

She softly, barely a whisper, replied, “I love you, too.”

I turned and left and went down the hallway to the elevator the the ground floor. After I exited the hallway and started to make my way to the parking lot I heard the hospital doors burst open and the voice of a nurse cry out, “Sir!?!?” I turned around and she was beckoning me to return.

In just the couple of minutes since my departure she had died.

I have the feeling that my Dad, who had died in 1995 was waiting to greet her as she went home and wanted her to himself as he escorted her to Jesus. (The fact that nurses were present is irrelevant, they were there for their job. I am family and there would be a symbolic notion for Dad wanting me elsewhere. I had been her caregiver and now he was taking over.)

So. My Mom died.

(Disclaimer: I do not mean to “canonize” my Mom. I understand that she might have spent some time in Purgatory. But due to the possibility that time flows differently in the afterlife, and we are discussing a dimension that is eternal, who knows what exactly transpired subjectively for my Mom just at 6:30 AM on November 7, 2005.

I write this disclaimer due to the common practice at funerals, Catholic and others, of automatically assuming that the deceased wind up in Heaven right away. Purgatory or ***GASP*** Hell is never discussed. Admittedly I am not open to the idea she is condemned, as she devoted her life to serving the Lord and her family.

Subjectively to her she may have spent some time in Purgatory, maybe objectively to us, if we were able to observe, hardly any time at all. Such may be the ways of eternity.

Part 2 will be later today.

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"

Fifteen years ago today, my father died

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"

Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States.

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"

Today would have been Mom's birthday

Today, January 20th, would have been my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 93. She died a few years ago, just shy of her 90th. The fact that she led and lived a full life doesn’t minimize her death. (“Well, Paul, she did live a long time.”)

I miss her. I have the hope of seeing her, and other loved ones, again in Heaven.

I am trying to spiritually develop so that my yearnings for Heaven are proper, that is I desire to get to Heaven to be united with God and not just so that I am reunited with my lost loved ones and God just happens to be there, too. That takes God for granted and that Heaven is just a perpetual playground or wonderful endless happy family reunion with Christmas and Easter dinners and picnics all thrown together.

Yearn for the face of the beloved, and all else will fall into place, as well. Trust in 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"

Prayers for the Dead and Dying

November 2nd is the Feast of All Soul’s, when we as Catholics pray for the deceased who are suffering in Purgatory. I’ll write more on Purgatory during this month of November.

One of the primary devotions for those who accept Church teaching on Purgatory is prayers for the dead. (If you reject the Church’s teaching on Purgatory, you cannot consider yourself a Catholic, but rather a Protestant.) . Below is a nice website that contains information on such prayers, along with a wealth of Church teaching on Purgatory and the Afterlife.

Prayers for the Dead and Dying

(Via Fr. Pat’s Place.)

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"

September 5, 1995. My father died.

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"

Reflections on a funeral chanced upon

Today when my wife and I went to Daily Mass we were delayed due to a funeral being said before the regular Mass. We had to wait for a while in the Adoration Chapel adjacent to the Church proper, when the final hymn was sung (“On Eagle’s Wings”) we moved over to a rear pew and waited.

Anyway, while we waited for the hymn to finish and the mourners to leave, I pondered what was going on. Reflecting on the fact that my Mom died nearly 3 years ago, and that event deeply and sharply impacted my life, I wondered about the people there.

A number of them will deeply miss the deceased. A few will miss the deceased in a profound way, perhaps requiring counseling.

At least one will consider themselves crazy for being (at least for the time being) unable or unwilling to move on.

There is a hole in a number of people’s lives, and some healing that needs to be done.

Perhaps the person who died left some unfinished business with others, and that can now no longer be done. Opportunities for reconciliation gone.

Makes you think. As I chanced upon a funeral, one day I could chance upon death. Will I be ready? Will you?

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"