The God Squad: More on grief
So many emails on my article about how long grief should last. They all touched my heart. Thank you and may God comfort you among the mourners.
My very best friend in the whole world just handed me your article on Grief. You are spot-on, rabbi! I lost my only son on 11/14/13. I will never not miss him. I can’t answer folks who ask how I "manage". I chalk it up to my Mom, who was tough as nails and a mean old broad. Let’s just say that she was made of steel. I know that I’m strong, I keep hoping that I’m not mean. I promised my boy when he was alive that I was taking care of myself. I stick to that promise. My goal is to make sure that my son would be proud of me. You’re right. Grief changes, but it remains. Who was it who said that the heart heals over or we'd go mad? Underneath all that we may accomplish, the hole remains. Anyway. Great article. You have a new fan. Thank you.
— From A
Knowing that the hole in your heart will heal but will always be there are the two most important lessons of grief. We go on but we are not the same. That is all we can hope for, but God will do the rest and some day we will realize that we will not be separated forever from those we have loved. — MG
Thank you for your recent column on grieving. My father passed away on January 14, seven months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma. In his final weeks, he was unable to communicate with us. I desperately would love a clear sign from him like you received from your friend Father Tom. In what manner did you receive the message? Any advice on how I can get a message or sign from my father? Our hearts are broken and we are sad every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
— From J
I received a sign from Tommy, but I did not expect it and I did not deserve it. However, I was ready for it. That is my advice to you. Do not try to find a sign from your father but be ready for a sign if it should come to you. — MG
I have been a faithful reader of The God Squad for many years and was saddened when you lost your best friend and co-author, Father Tom Hartman. Thank you for your column on the subject of grief, how intense it can be based on the love that we felt for that person, and how to be patient with our grief. Thank you for your prayers for healing. They came at such an opportune time for me. Our mom was in a long-term facility for three years, and every day that I could I would leave at 12:30 p.m. to spend the afternoon with her. Ironically, the facility closed down on my birthday, due to COVID-19 restrictions. During those long eight to nine months in 2020, visitors were not allowed and we could only communicate by waving at the window, by Zoom or by phone. At one point, she thought my brother and I had abandoned her. She even told staff that I had died and that was why I was no longer visiting. She contracted COVID and lost more than 50 pounds. Miraculously, she survived that while others there passed from the virus. Our mom’s goal was to live to be 94 like her mother did. Just four days after her 94th birthday, she suffered a stroke and passed on Nov. 10, 2021. She shares that anniversary with her dad who passed on November 10, 1972. This is what grief has taught me: My faith is everything and that our loved ones are a gift from God. Part of the healing process entails expressing gratitude, empathy, and doing something for others every day. We had great parents and my hope is in finding meaning to honor them and pay tribute and find purpose in my own life. We go from worry to grief to finding joyful memories. Friends are truly the life support that keeps us going. Journaling helps in keeping memories alive in our heart. Thank you so much for your insight, wisdom and compassion on a weekly basis. Congratulations on the launch of your podcast.
— From M
Your advice to other mourners is touching and true. You should be comforted that, although your mother’s love did not need to be repaid, you did repay it in the fullest measure. — MG
May God comfort us among the mourners — one and all.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)
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