Thursday, November 3, 2016

All Souls Day and Grief

Last night was our parish's Remembrance Mass. After the homily, the names are read of all of those parishoners that have gone home this past year. I was shocked at how many people I knew in the congregation this time. I knew that they had lost a loved one, but to see them all together is a different story. It made me think about the sadness that can accompany that kind of loss. Last year, I lost my grandfather, who was the last of my grandparents. As an aside, my grandparents were two of the most amazing people I ever had the privilege to know. I'm not saying this to brag. I'm sure your grandparents were awesome in their own right. I say this to point out that I miss them terribly. We had a remarkably close relationship.

No, I'm not using the parish blog for sympathy points. Later in the mass, I was paying special attention to the Liturgy of the Eucharistic. It had extra meaning for me last night, because I remembered that the mass takes place in heaven too. Every time the priest lifts the host and the chalice, we are not only united with Christ, we are united in the Body of Christ... with the "communion" of saints (see what I did there?).  I realized when I was a kid, I felt something special when we were all together at mass, my extended family. I never really put it together until last night. It was a foreshadowing of how I would be with my family, those still here on Earth and those in Heaven. It's the ultimate family reunion. Every saint is present at the sacrifice of the mass. And this lead me to another thought:

I never really mourned their passing. At first, I thought maybe I was in denial, or not present emotionally, or closed off somehow, all of the classic psychoanalysis terms. Let me clear, I was sad, I knew how empty life seemed without them. But it certainly didn't feel like the classic mourning that I was picturing. I had lost friends and other relatives before that, but never someone as close to me as they were. I guess, in my mind, mourning had something to do with feeling bad that the person has died, like they lost something, or that death itself is a bad thing. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't associate negative feelings with their deaths. How could I? I knew where they were and I knew it was the most amazing place they could be. I guess I could compare it to your best friend landing his or her dream job working at Disney World. Sure, you'd miss them, but if you truly loved them, you couldn't be anything but happy for them.

So there it is. The consolation of the Eucharistic. I don't know if you've lost someone. I don't know if perhaps someone in your life is ill. But there is so much solace and comfort, if you truly understand and embrace what is happening during the mass. I am so grateful to God for choosing to place my soul in this time and place; for letting me meet such amazing people and have the honor of calling them Mommom and Poppop. But I am most grateful for the gift of His Son, for the gift of His ultimate sacrifice, for the gift of never having to really say goodbye since He has conquered death.

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